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Trade intermediation and the organization of exporters

  • Felbermayr, Gabriel
  • Jung, Benjamin

Empirical papers show that successful exporting firms either use unaffiliated foreign trade intermediaries or own foreign wholesale subsidiaries. However, conventional trade theory models assume that producers can directly access foreign consumers. We introduce intermediaries in an international trade model where producers differ with respect to productivity as well as regarding their varieties’ perceived quality and tradability. Trade intermediation is prone to frictions owing to the absence of enforceable cross-country contracts while own wholesale subsidiaries require additional capital investment. The sorting pattern of firms depends on their degree of competitive advantage; the equilibrium prevalence of intermediation in the industry depends negatively on the heterogeneity among producers, and the market-specificity of goods, and positively on expropriation risk. Using sectoral US export data by destination country, we confirm the empirical validity of these predictions.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20574.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Publication status: Published in Review of International Economics 4 19(2011): pp. 634-648
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20574
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  1. JaeBin Ahn & Amit K. Khandelwal & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "The Role of Intermediaries in Facilitating Trade," NBER Working Papers 15706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
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  6. Romain Aeberhardt & Ines Buono & Harald Fadinger, 2012. "Learning, incomplete contracts and export dynamics: theory and evidence from French firms," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 883, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Sebastian Krautheim, 2007. "Export-Supporting FDI," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/24, European University Institute.
  8. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration Versus Outsourcing In Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120, February.
  9. Bernardo S. Blum & Sebastian Claro & Ignatius Horstmann, 2010. "Facts and Figures on Intermediated Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 419-23, May.
  10. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2008. "Information Costs, Networks and Intermediation in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0848, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Robert C. Feenstra, 1997. "U.S. Exports, 1972-1994: With State Exports and Other U.S. Data," NBER Working Papers 5990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Jung, Benjamin, 2011. "Trade intermediation and the organization of exporters," Munich Reprints in Economics 20574, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  13. Paul R. Bergin & Reuven Glick, 2005. "Tradability, Productivity, and Understanding International Economic Integration," NBER Working Papers 11637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2006. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_022, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  15. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  16. Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2003. "Global Sourcing," NBER Working Papers 10082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Pol Antrás & Arnaud Costinot, 2010. "Intermediation and Economic Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 424-28, May.
  18. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  20. Horstmann, Ignatius J & Markusen, James R, 1996. "Exploring New Markets: Direct Investment, Contractual Relations and the Multinational Enterprise," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(1), pages 1-19, February.
  21. Harald Trabold, 2002. "Export Intermediation: An Empirical Test of Peng and Ilinitch," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 33(2), pages 327-344, June.
  22. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret Slade, 2007. "Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries: The Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 629-685, September.
  23. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2007. "Competing for Contacts: Network Competition, Trade Intermediation and Fragmented Duopoly," Economics Series Working Papers 371, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  24. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Jennifer Abel-Koch, 2011. "Firm Size and the Choice of Export Mode," Working Papers 1105, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 29 Mar 2011.
  26. Daniel F. Spulber, 1996. "Market Microstructure and Intermediation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 135-152, Summer.
  27. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
  28. Akerman, Anders, 2010. "A Theory on the Role of Wholesalers in International Trade based on Economies of Scope," Research Papers in Economics 2010:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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