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Export-Platform Foreign Direct Investment

  • Karolina Ekholm
  • Rikard Forslid
  • James Markusen

Export-platform foreign direct investment in which the affiliate's output is (largely) sold in third markets rather than in the parent or host markets has received empirical attention recently, but little theoretical analysis. This paper is an attempt to make some sense of this phenomenon. We use a three-region model in which there are two identical, large, high-cost economies and a small low-cost economy. Pure export-platform production arises in a symmetric case, when a firm in each of the high-cost economies has a plant at home, and a plant in the low-cost country (the South) to serve the other high-cost country. This occurs when trade costs for intermediates (components) and plant-fixed costs are moderate and the South has a moderate cost advantage in assembly. Another interesting and empirically important case arises when there is trade liberalization between one of the high-cost countries and the small, low-cost country. The outside high-cost country may wish to build a branch plant inside the free trade area due to market size, but chooses the low-cost country on the basis of cost. Or a firm headquartered in the large country inside the free-trade area might build a single plant in its low-wage partner in order to serve their joint free-trade area and to export to the outside high-cost country.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9517.

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Date of creation: Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Karolina Ekholm & Rikard Forslid & James R. Markusen, 2007. "Export-Platform Foreign Direct Investment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 776-795, 06.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9517
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  1. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Markusen, James R. & Rutherford, Thomas F., 1996. "Trade policy subtleties with multinational firms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1605-1627, November.
  2. David L. Carr & James R. Markusen & Keith E. Maskus, 2001. "Estimating the Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 693-708, June.
  3. Blonigen, Bruce A., 2001. "In search of substitution between foreign production and exports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 81-104, February.
  4. Brainard, S Lael, 1997. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Trade-off between Multinational Sales and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 520-44, September.
  5. Markusen, James R & Maskus, Keith E, 2002. "Discriminating among Alternative Theories of the Multinational Enterprise," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 694-707, November.
  6. Markusen, James R., 2002. "Multinational Firms and the Theory of International Trade," MPRA Paper 8380, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Braconier, Henrik & Ekholm, Karolina, 2001. "Foreign Direct Investment in Central and Eastern Europe: Employment Effects in the EU," CEPR Discussion Papers 3052, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. James R. Markusen & Keith E. Maskus, 2001. "Multinational Firms: Reconciling Theory and Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey, pages 71-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026210086x, December.
  10. Braconier, Henrik & Ekholm, Karolina, 2000. "Swedish Multinationals and Competition from High- and Low-Wage Locations," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(3), pages 448-61, August.
  11. Magnus Blomstrom & Linda S. Goldberg, 2001. "Topics in Empirical International Economics: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert E. Lipsey," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number blom01-1, September.
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