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Global Value Chains and the Missing Exports of the United States


  • Yuqing Xing

    (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan)


Many American multinational corporations (MNCs) have turned into factory-less. They outsource the production of their products to foreign companies and derive the largest share of their revenue from the intellectual property of core technologies and brand names. When factory-less American MNCs sell their products assembled by foreign contract manufacturers in overseas markets, they actually gexport h the value added attributed to their intellectual property embedded in those physical goods. However, conventional trade statistics are compiled based on the value of goods crossing national borders, as declared to customs. The value added of the intellectual property is generally not recorded as part of US exports. We use Apple, a typical factory-less American company that employs exclusively foreign contact manufacturers to assembly its products, as a case to illustrate why and how conventional trade statistics underestimate actual US exports in the age of global value chains. According to our analysis of this case, if the value added of Apple intellectual property sold to foreign consumers was counted as part of US exports, total US exports in 2015 would increase by 3.4%, and its trade deficit would decrease by 7.0%. In terms of bilateral trade, the value added under examination here would raise the US exports to China and Japan by 16.6% and 8.6% respectively, and lower its trade deficit with the two countries by 5.2% and 7.8% accordingly.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuqing Xing, 2019. "Global Value Chains and the Missing Exports of the United States," GRIPS Discussion Papers 19-01, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ngi:dpaper:19-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade

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