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The Determinants of Vertical Integration in Export Processing: Theory and Evidence from China

  • Ana Fernandes

    (University of Sussex)

  • Heiwai Tang

    (Tufts University ,Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano ,Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

This paper uses detailed product-level export data for China and proposes an extension of the Antrˆjs and Helpman (2004) framework that includes investments in component search to investigate the determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) versus foreign outsourcing. We exploit the coexistence of two regulatory trade regimes for export-processing in China, pure-assembly and import-and-assembly. We find that if Chinese plants import materials and assemble them, the share of exports from vertically integrated plants is increasing in the intensity of headquarter inputs across sectors, and is decreasing in the contractibility of inputs. These results are consistent with existing theories. However, if Chinese plants engage in pure-assembly, under which regime ownership over the materials shipped to China remains with the foreign firm, we find little support for the existing theories on FDI and outsourcing that focus on contract incompleteness and the relative importance of relationship-specific investments. We also find that more dispersed firm productivity in a sector is associated with a larger export share of integrated plants under pure-assembly but not under import-and-assembly. These results are consistent with the predictions of our model, which focuses on ownership of imported components as an alternative to asset ownership for alleviating the hold-up problem by the export-processing plant.

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Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 052010.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:052010
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  1. John Romalis, 2004. "Factor Proportions and the Structure of Commodity Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 67-97, March.
  2. Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2003. "Global Sourcing," NBER Working Papers 10082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Outsourcing versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 9300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Antras, Pol, 2005. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," Scholarly Articles 3196324, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Fabrice Defever & Farid Toubal, 2007. "Productivity and the Sourcing Modes of Multinational Firms: Evidence from French Firm-Level Data," CEP Discussion Papers dp0842, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Emanuel Ornelas & John L. Turner, 2008. "Protection and International Sourcing," CEP Discussion Papers dp0900, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  9. Grossman, Gene M. & Helpman, Elhanan, 2005. "Outsourcing in a Global Economy," Scholarly Articles 25586654, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 729-761.
  11. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," Scholarly Articles 4686801, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. John McLaren, 2000. ""Globalization" and Vertical Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1239-1254, December.
  13. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2004. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," IMF Working Papers 04/231, International Monetary Fund.
  14. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  16. Corcos, Gregory & Irac, Delphine & Mion, Giordano & Verdier, Thierry, 2009. "The Determinants of Intra-Firm Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 7530, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dunn05-1.
  18. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1375-1418.
  19. Paola Conconi & Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Choice," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-172, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  20. Stephen Ross Yeaple, 2006. "Offshoring, Foreign Direct Investment, and the Structure of U.S. Trade," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 602-611, 04-05.
  21. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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