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Exporting from manufacturing firms in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Francis Teal
  • MÃ¥ns Söderbom
  • Neil Rankin

The poor performance of many African economies has been associated with low growth of exports in general and of manufacturing exports in particular. In this paper we draw on micro evidence of manufacturing firms in five African countries - Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria - to investigate the cause of poor exporting performance. We exploit a data set which has a much longer panel dimension than has been used before to assess the relative importance of self-selection based on efficiency and firm size as determinants of export participation. We show that firm size is a robust determinant of the decision to export. It is not a proxy for efficiency, for capital intensity, for sector or for time-invariant unobservables. In contrast the evidence for self-selection into exporting is very weak. Finally our use of a longer run panel than has been available before has allowed us to separate out the roles of ownership and skills as possible determinants of participation in exporting. We find that both foreign ownership and skills are significant determinants of exporting.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-036.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-036
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  1. Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2002. "Size and efficiency in African manufacturing firms: Evidence from firm-level panel data," CSAE Working Paper Series 2002-07, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  2. Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2000. "Skills, investment and exports from manufacturing firms in Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  3. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Francis Teal & Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2000. "Skills, investment and exports from manufacturing firms in Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. M�ns S–derbom & Francis Teal, 2003. "Are Manufacturing Exports the Key to Economic Success in Africa?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, March.
  6. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 10020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. A. Isgut, 2001. "What's Different about Exporters? Evidence from Colombian Manufacturing," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(5), pages 57-82.
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