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Product quality and intra-industry trade

Listed author(s):
  • Ito, Tadashi
  • Okubo, Toshihiro

In this study, we argue that the conventional intra-industry trade (IIT) index does not address the quality issue directly and propose a methodology to make full use of unit-price gap information to deduce quality differences between simultaneously exported and imported products. By applying this measure to German trade data at the eight-digit level, we study the quality improvement of Chinese export goods in its IIT with Germany. We compare the case of China with those of Eastern European countries, which are also major trading partners of Germany. Our results show that the unit-value difference in IIT between Germany and Eastern European countries is clearly narrowing. However, China's export prices to Germany are much lower than Germany's export prices to China, and this gap has not narrowed over the last 23 years. This is at odds with the common perception that China's product quality has improved, as documented by Rodrik (2006) and Schott (2008). Our results support Xu (2010), which argued that incorporating the quality aspect of the exported goods weakens or even eliminates the evidence of the sophistication of Chinese export goods in Rodrik (2006).

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Paper provided by Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO) in its series IDE Discussion Papers with number 478.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2014
Publication status: Published in IDE Discussion Paper = IDE Discussion Paper, No. 478. 2014-09-01
Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper478
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  1. AZHAR, Abdul K.M. & Elliott, Robert J.R. & Liu, Junting, 2008. "On the measurement of product quality in intra-industry trade: An empirical test for China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 336-344, June.
  2. Fukao, Kyoji & Ishido, Hikari & Ito, Keiko, 2003. "Vertical intra-industry trade and foreign direct investment in East Asia," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 468-506, December.
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  7. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
  8. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
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  12. Jarreau, Joachim & Poncet, Sandra, 2012. "Export sophistication and economic growth: Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 281-292.
  13. Amit Khandelwal, 2010. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1450-1476.
  14. Abdul K. M. Azhar & Robert J. R. Elliott, 2006. "On the Measurement of Product Quality in Intra-Industry Trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 142(3), pages 476-495, October.
  15. Tadashi Ito & Toshihiro Okubo, 2012. "New Aspects of Intra-industry Trade in EU Countries," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(9), pages 1126-1138, 09.
  16. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2011. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 417-474.
  17. Falvey, Rodney E., 1981. "Commercial policy and intra-industry trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 495-511, November.
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  19. Manuel Cabral & Joana Silva, 2006. "Intra-Industry Trade Expansion and Employment Reallocation between Sectors and Occupations," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 142(3), pages 496-520, October.
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  23. Lars Jensen & Teit Lüthje, 2009. "Driving forces of vertical intra-industry trade in Europe 1996–2005," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 145(3), pages 469-488, October.
  24. Marius Brülhart & Robert Elliott, 2002. "Labour-market effects of intra-industry trade: Evidence for the United Kingdom," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 138(2), pages 207-228, June.
  25. Greenaway, David & Hine, Robert C & Milner, Chris, 1995. "Vertical and Horizontal Intra-industry Trade: A Cross Industry Analysis for the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1505-1518, November.
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  27. Flam, Harry & Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Vertical Product Differentiation and North-South Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 810-822, December.
  28. Toshihiro Okubo, 2007. "Intra-industry Trade, Reconsidered: The Role of Technology Transfer and Foreign Direct Investment," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(12), pages 1855-1876, December.
  29. XU, Bin & LU, Jiangyong, 2009. "Foreign direct investment, processing trade, and the sophistication of China's exports," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 425-439, September.
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