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Imports and exports at the level of the firm: Evidence from Belgium

  • Mirabelle Muûls
  • Mauro Pisu

This paper explores a newly-available panel data set merging balance sheet and international trade transaction data for Belgium. Both imports and exports appear to be highly concentrated among few firms and seem to have become more so over time. Focusing on manufacturing, we find that facts previously reported in the literature for exports only actually apply to imports too. We note that the number of trading firms diminishes as the number of export destinations or import origins increases. The same is true if we consider the number of products traded. With regard to productivity differentials, firms that both import and export appear to be the most productive, followed, in descending order, by importers only, exporters only and non-traders. These results point to the presence of fixed costs; not only of exporting, but also of importing and to a process of self-selection in both export and import markets. Also, the productivity advantage of exporters reported in the literature may be overstated because imports were not considered.

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File URL: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/gep/documents/papers/2007/07-28.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Nottingham, GEP in its series Discussion Papers with number 07/28.

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Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:07/28
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  8. Schor, Adriana, 2004. "Heterogeneous productivity response to tariff reduction. Evidence from Brazilian manufacturing firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-396, December.
  9. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & Helen Simpson, 2004. "Foreign Ownership and Productivity: New Evidence from the Service Sector and the R&D Lab," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 440-456, Autumn.
  10. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 10020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. J. Bradford Jensen & Andrew Bernard & Peter Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," Working Papers 05-20, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Fernandes, Ana M., 2003. "Trade policy, trade volumes, and plant-level productivity in Colombian manufacturing industries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3064, The World Bank.
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  16. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting trade: firms, industries, and export destinations," Staff Report 332, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. Aw, B. -Y. & Hwang, A. R., 1995. "Productivity and the export market: A firm-level analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 313-332, August.
  18. Feenstra, Robert C & Markusen, James R & Zeile, William, 1992. "Accounting for Growth with New Inputs: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 415-21, May.
  19. Joze P. Damijan & Saso Polanec & Janez Prasnikar, 2004. "Self-selection, Export Market Heterogeneity and Productivity Improvements: Firm Level Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 14804, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
  20. Davide Castellani, 2002. "Export behavior and productivity growth: Evidence from Italian manufacturing firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 138(4), pages 605-628, December.
  21. Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "The causal effects of exports on firm size and labor productivity: first evidence from a matching approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 287-292, October.
  22. Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2004. "Trade, Technology, and Productivity: A Study of Brazilian Manufacturers, 1986-1998," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt6m96c2r7, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  23. Sourafel Girma & Richard Kneller & Mauro Pisu, 2005. "Exports versus FDI: An Empirical Test," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 141(2), pages 193-218, July.
  24. Megan MacGarvie, 2006. "Do Firms Learn from International Trade?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 46-60, February.
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