Trade and quality: theoretical and empirical evidence for the euro zone
Since the contribution of Linder (1961) product quality is considered as a factor potentially boosting exports, especially for the most industrialized countries. However, being quality difficult to be measured, the macro-econometric studies on its role are not numerous and have not produced clear-cut results. In this paper we shed some light on the theoretical and empirical impact of product quality on the export performance of the EU-12 area. To avoid problems of mis-specification and endogeneity usual in the empirical literature on trade equations, we model exports as jointly endogenous with GDP, inflation and exchange rate. For this purpose we modify and enlarge a New Keynesian open economy model à la Clarida, Galì and Gertler (2001) to adapt it to a large open economy. Sign restrictions, based on theoretical impact multipliers, enable the identification of quality as one of the structural shocks of the corresponding Bayesian VAR, avoiding drawbacks connected to the choice of an incomplete, partial or biased proxy of the phenomenon. The empirical evidence shows that a quality upgrade might reinforce the EU competitiveness leading to an improvement of the current account, without any unfavourable effect on terms of trade.
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