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International Trade, Offshoring and Heterogeneous Firms

  • Richard Baldwin

    (Graduate Institute, Geneva)

  • Toshihiro Okubo

    (Faculty of Economics, Keio University)

Recent trade models determine the equilibrium distribution of firm-level efficiency endogenously and show that freer trade shifts the distribution towards higher average productivity due to entry and exit of firms. These models ignore the possibility that freer trade also alters the firm-size distribution via international firm migration (offshoring); firms must, by assumption, produce in their 'birth nation.' We show that when firms are allowed to switch locations, new productivity effects arise. Freer trade induces the most efficient small-nation firms to move to the large nation. The big country gets an 'extra helping' of the most efficient firms while the small nation's firm-size distribution is truncated on both ends. This reinforces the big-nation productivity gain while reducing or even reversing the small-nation productivity gain. The small nation is nevertheless better off allowing firm migration.

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File URL: http://ies.keio.ac.jp/old_project/old/gcoe-econbus/pdf/dp/DP2012-014.pdf
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Paper provided by Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Program in its series Keio/Kyoto Joint Global COE Discussion Paper Series with number 2012-014.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kei:dpaper:2012-014
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Web page: http://ies.keio.ac.jp/old_project/old/gcoe-econbus/

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  1. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Keith Head & John Ries, 2003. "Heterogeneity and the FDI versus Export Decision of Japanese Manufacturers," NBER Working Papers 10052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jens M. Arnold & Katrin Hussinger, 2010. "Exports versus FDI in German Manufacturing: Firm Performance and Participation in International Markets," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 595-606, 09.
  4. Toshihiro Okubo & Pierre M. Picard & Jacques-François Thisse, 2008. "The spatial selection of heterogeneous firms," CREA Discussion Paper Series 08-16, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  5. Okubo, Toshihiro, 2009. "Trade liberalisation and agglomeration with firm heterogeneity: Forward and backward linkages," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 530-541, September.
  6. Forslid, Rikard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2010. "On the Development Strategy of Countries of Intermediate size - An Analysis of Heterogenous Fims in a Multiregion Framework," Research Papers in Economics 2010:28, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  7. Richard E. Baldwin & Toshihiro Okubo, 2006. "Heterogeneous firms, agglomeration and economic geography: spatial selection and sorting," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 323-346, June.
  8. Forslid, Rikard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2012. "On the development strategy of countries of intermediate size—An analysis of heterogeneous firms in a multi-region framework," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 747-756.
  9. Eiichi Tomiura, 2005. "Foreign Outsourcing, Exporting, and FDI: A Productivity Comparison at the Firm Level," Discussion Paper Series 168, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
  10. Baldwin, Richard & Okubo, Toshihiro, 2006. "Agglomeration, Offshoring and Heterogenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 5663, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stephen J. Redding, 2010. "Theories of Heterogeneous Firms and Trade," NBER Working Papers 16562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Demidova, Svetlana, 2005. "Productivity Improvements and Falling Trade Costs: Boon or Bane?," Working Papers 2-05-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
  14. Yeaple, Stephen Ross, 2005. "A simple model of firm heterogeneity, international trade, and wages," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-20, January.
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