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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
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Review of International Economics 4 19(2011): pp. 634-648
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20574
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  1. Antràs, Pol & Costinot, Arnaud, 2010. "Intermediated Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 7696, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
  3. Lafontaine, Francine & Slade, Margaret, 2007. "Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries : The Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 799, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Antràs, Pol & Costinot, Arnaud, 2010. "Intermediation and Economic Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 7697, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Romain Aeberhardt & Ines Buono & Harald Fadinger, 2009. "Learning, Incomplete Contracts and Ecport Dynamics: Theory and Evidence from French Firms," Vienna Economics Papers 1006, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  6. Gabriel J Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung, 2009. "Trade Intermediation and the Organization of Exporters," Diskussionspapiere aus dem Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre der Universität Hohenheim 309/2009, Department of Economics, University of Hohenheim, Germany.
  7. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2007. "Competing for Contacts: Network Competition, Trade Intermediation and Fragmented Duopoly," Economics Series Working Papers 371, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2008. "Information Costs, Networks and Intermediation in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0848, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Paul Bergin & Reuven Glick, 2005. "Tradability, Productivity, and Understanding International Economic Integration," Working Papers 514, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2003. "Global Sourcing," NBER Working Papers 10082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  15. Nathan Nunn, 2005. "Relationship Specificity, Incomplete Contracts and the Pattern of Trade," International Trade 0512018, EconWPA.
  16. 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.
  17. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2006. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_022, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Sebastian Krautheim, 2013. "Export-supporting FDI," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(4), pages 1571-1605, November.
  22. 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.
  23. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Daniel F. Spulber, 1996. "Market Microstructure and Intermediation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 135-152, Summer.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
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