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In Search of Substitution Between Foreign Production and Exports

  • Bruce A. Blonigen

Are foreign production and exports substitutes or complements? The continuing globalization of production makes the question of the relationship between trade and foreign direct investment ever more important. Standard theory of the multinational corporation (MNC) assumes substitution, while previous empirical work examining the relationship has generally found strong evidence of complementarity. This study examines product-level data, which more closely fits the assumption of a single-product firm often used in MNC theory, and finds substantial evidence for both a substitution and a complementarity effect between affiliate production and exports with Japanese automobile parts for the U.S. market. I also test for and find evidence of substitution using product-level data on a set of Japanese-produced final consumer goods. Thus, product-level data allows one to separately identify substitution from complementarity effects (here from vertical production relationships), rather than try to infer them from estimates using more aggregate data. In this sense, the paper highlights the importance of matching the level of data aggregation with the hypotheses being tested. This is particularly true at a time when there is an increasing proliferation of available microeconomic data in the field of international economics.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7154.

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Date of creation: Jun 1999
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Publication status: published as Blonigen, Bruce A. "In Search Of Substitution Between Foreign Production And Exports," Journal of International Economics, 2001, v53(1,Feb), 81-104.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7154
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  1. Grubert, Harry & Mutti, John, 1991. "Taxes, Tariffs and Transfer Pricing in Multinational Corporate Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 285-93, May.
  2. James R. Markusen, 1995. "The Boundaries of Multinational Enterprises and the Theory of International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 169-189, Spring.
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  7. Goldberg, Linda S. & Kolstad, Charles D., 1994. "Foreign Direct Investment, Exchange Rate Variability and Demand Uncertainty," Working Papers 94-23, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2001. "Overseas Investment and Firm Exports," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 108-22, February.
  9. Magnus Blomstrom & Robert E. Lipsey & Ksenia Kulchycky, 1988. "U.S. and Swedish Direct Investment and Exports," NBER Chapters, in: Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis, pages 257-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Wong, Kar-yiu, 1986. "Are international trade and factor mobility substitutes?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 25-43, August.
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  12. Bruce A. Blonigen & KaSaundra Tomlin, 1999. "Size and Growth of Japanese Plants in the United States," NBER Working Papers 7275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Buckley, Peter J & Casson, Mark, 1981. "The Optimal Timing of a Foreign Direct Investment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(361), pages 75-87, March.
  14. Markusen, James R., 1983. "Factor movements and commodity trade as complements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 341-356, May.
  15. Clausing, Kimberly A, 2000. "Does Multinational Activity Displace Trade?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 190-205, April.
  16. Deborah L. Swenson, 1997. "Explaining Domestic Content: Evidence from Japanese and U.S. Automobile Production in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of U.S. Trade Protection and Promotion Policies, pages 33-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
  18. Belderbos, Rene & Sleuwaegen, Leo, 1998. "Tariff jumping DFI and export substitution: Japanese electronics firms in Europe," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 601-638, September.
  19. S. Lael Brainard, 1993. "A Simple Theory of Multinational Corporations and Trade with a Trade-Off Between Proximity and Concentration," NBER Working Papers 4269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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