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What Accounts for the Rising Sophistication of China's Exports?

  • Zhi Wang
  • Shang-Jin Wei

Chinese exports have become increasingly sophisticated. This has generated anxiety in developed countries as competitive pressure may increasingly be felt outside labor-intensive industries. Using product-level data on exports from different cities within China, this paper investigates the contributing factors to China's rising export sophistication. Somewhat surprisingly, neither processing trade nor foreign invested firms are found to play an important role in generating the increased overlap between China's export structure and that of high-income countries. Instead, improvement in human capital and government policies in the form of tax-favored high-tech zones appear to be the key to the country's evolving export structure. On the other hand, processing trade, foreign invested firms, and government-sponsored high-tech zones all have contributed significantly to raising the unit values of Chinese exports within a given product category.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13771.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Publication status: published as What Accounts for the Rising Sophistication of China's Exports? , Zhi Wang, Shang-Jin Wei. in China's Growing Role in World Trade , Feenstra and Wei. 2010
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13771
Note: ITI
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  1. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  3. Peter K. Schott, 2006. "The Relative Sophistication of Chinese Exports," NBER Working Papers 12173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2001. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," NBER Working Papers 8551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lionel Fontagné & Guillaume Gaulier & Soledad Zignago, 2008. "Specialization across varieties and North-South competition," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 51-91, 01.
  6. Finger, J M & Kreinin, M E, 1979. "A Measure of 'Export Similarity' and Its Possible Uses," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(356), pages 905-12, December.
  7. Ricardo Hausmann & Jason Hwang & Dani Rodrik, 2005. "What You Export Matters," NBER Working Papers 11905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Galina Hale & Cheryl Long, 2006. "What Determines Technological Spillovers of Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from China," Working Papers 934, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  9. Rodrik, Dani, 2006. "What's So Special about China's Exports?," Working Paper Series rwp06-001, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Raymond Fisman & Peter Moustakerski & Shang-Jin Wei, 2007. "Outsourcing Tariff Evasion: A New Explanation for Entrepot Trade," NBER Working Papers 12818, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
  12. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
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