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Why are Retail Prices in Japan so High?: Evidence from German Export Prices


  • Michael M. Knetter


It is well documented that retail prices in Japan are higher than in other countries for similar products. The two main competing explanations for this finding are: (1) a relatively high degree of discriminatory practices against imports and (2) relatively high distribution costs associated with getting goods to the point of final sale in Japan. The first of these explanations implies that foreign exporters should charge higher prices on shipments to Japan than elsewhere, provided at least some of the rent associated with restrictive practices can be captured by the exporter. For the vast majority of the 37 7-digit German export industries studied here, the data are consistent with this implication. Prices on shipments to Japan appear to be significantly higher than prices on shipments to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael M. Knetter, 1994. "Why are Retail Prices in Japan so High?: Evidence from German Export Prices," NBER Working Papers 4894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4894
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knetter, Michael M, 1989. "Price Discrimination by U.S. and German Exporters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 198-210, March.
    2. Giovannini, Alberto, 1988. "Exchange rates and traded goods prices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 45-68, February.
    3. Marston, Richard C., 1990. "Pricing to market in Japanese manufacturing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3-4), pages 217-236, November.
    4. Knetter, Michael M, 1994. "Did the Strong Dollar Increase Competition in U.S. Product Markets?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 192-195, February.
    5. Steven Berry & James Levinsohn & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Voluntary Export Restraints on Automobiles: Evaluating a Strategic TradePolicy," NBER Working Papers 5235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gary R. Saxonhouse, 1993. "What Does Japanese Trade Structure Tell Us about Japanese Trade Policy?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 21-43, Summer.
    7. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
    8. Sven W. Arndt & J. David Richardson, 1987. "Real-Financial Linkages Among Open Economies," NBER Working Papers 2230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. repec:fth:michin:337 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Paul Krugman, 1986. "Pricing to Market when the Exchange Rate Changes," NBER Working Papers 1926, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Isard, Peter, 1977. "How Far Can We Push the "Law of One Price"?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 942-948, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1995. "Regional Patterns in the Law of One Price: The Roles of Geography vs. Currencies," NBER Working Papers 5395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sazanami, Yoko & Kimura, Fukunari & Kawai, Hiroki, 1997. "Sectoral Price Movements under the Yen Appreciation," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 611-641, December.
    3. Charles Engel, 1999. "Accounting for U.S. Real Exchange Rate Changes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 507-538, June.
    4. Lambelet, Jean-Christian & Mihailov, Alexander, 2005. "The Triple-Parity Law," Economics Discussion Papers 8896, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    5. Campa, Jose Manuel & Goldberg, Linda S, 1999. "Investment, Pass-Through, and Exchange Rates: A Cross-Country Comparison," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(2), pages 287-314, May.
    6. Scott Bradford, 2000. "Rents, Votes, and Protection: Explaining the Structure of Trade Barriers Across Industries," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1717, Econometric Society.
    7. O'Connell, P. G. J., 1998. "Market frictions and real exchange rates1," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 71-95, February.
    8. Gordhan K. Saini, 2009. "Non-Tariff Measures and Indian Textiles and Clothing Exports," Trade Working Papers 22407, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    9. Gordhan K. Saini, 2009. "Non-tariff measures and Indian textiles and clothing exports," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2009-002, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    10. Noland, Marcus, 1995. "Why are prices in Japan so high?," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 255-261, September.
    11. World Bank, 2006. "World Development Indicators 2006," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8151, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade


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