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South African exporting firms: What do we know and what should we know?


  • Edwards, Lawrence
  • Rankin, Neil A.
  • Schöer, Volker


Policies to stimulate export growth and diversify the composition of exports in South Africa are now high on the government’s agenda. In order to understand exporting and its impact on job creation, one needs to understand how firms function, what determines, or constrains, exporting at the firm level and the links between export behaviour and labour demand. An understanding of these relationships, particularly over time, is also essential for the implementation and evaluation of export related policies. This paper reviews the evidence on South African exporting firms, highlighting what we know, and what we do not know. A key conclusion is that our understanding of firm level export behaviour is severely constrained by the lack of adequate firm data, particularly panel data.

Suggested Citation

  • Edwards, Lawrence & Rankin, Neil A. & Schöer, Volker, 2008. "South African exporting firms: What do we know and what should we know?," MPRA Paper 16906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16906

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fafchamps, Marcel & El Hamine, Said & Zeufack, Albert, 2002. "Learning to export - evidence from Moroccan manufacturing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2827, The World Bank.
    2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 105-130, Summer.
    3. By Gunnar Jonsson & Arvind Subramanian, 2001. "Dynamic Gains from Trade: Evidence from South Africa," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(1), pages 1-8.
    4. Andrew Bernard & Joachim Wagner, 1997. "Exports and success in German manufacturing," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 133(1), pages 134-157, March.
    5. Stephen S. Golub & Janet Ceglowski, 2002. "South African Real Exchange Rates And Manufacturing Competitiveness," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 70(6), pages 1047-1075, September.
    6. Richard Baldwin & Paul Krugman, 1989. "Persistent Trade Effects of Large Exchange Rate Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 635-654.
    7. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
    8. Baldwin, Richard, 1988. "Hyteresis in Import Prices: The Beachhead Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 773-785, September.
    9. Neil Rankin & Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2006. "Exporting from Manufacturing Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(4), pages 671-687, December.
    10. Vivek B. Arora & Ashok Bhundia, 2003. "Potential Output and total Factor Productivity Growth in Post-Apartheid South Africa," IMF Working Papers 03/178, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Lawrence Edwards & Phil Alves, 2006. "South Africa'S Export Performance: Determinants Of Export Supply," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 74(3), pages 473-500, September.
    12. Rhys Jenkins, 2008. "Trade, Technology and Employment in South Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(1), pages 60-79.
    13. Paul Collier & Anthony J. Venables, 2007. "Rethinking Trade Preferences: How Africa Can Diversify its Exports," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(8), pages 1326-1345, August.
    14. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S., 1985. "Income and price effects in foreign trade," Handbook of International Economics,in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1041-1105 Elsevier.
    15. De Loecker, Jan, 2007. "Do exports generate higher productivity? Evidence from Slovenia," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 69-98, September.
    16. Rankin, Neil A., 2001. "The export behaviour of South African manufacturing firms," MPRA Paper 16904, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Edwards, Lawrence & Golub, Stephen S., 2004. "South Africa's International Cost Competitiveness and Exports in Manufacturing," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1323-1339, August.
    18. Lawrence Edwards, 2005. "Has South Africa Liberalised Its Trade?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(4), pages 754-775, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:ilo:ilowps:479088 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Andrew Kerr & Martin Wittenberg & Jairo Arrow, 2014. "Job Creation and Destruction in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(1), pages 1-18, March.
    3. Konstantin MAKRELOV & David FAULKNER, "undated". "Productivity-Raising Interventions for the South African Economy: A CGE Analysis," EcoMod2009 21500063, EcoMod.
    4. Marianne Matthee & Waldo Krugell, 2011. "Barriers to Internationalisation: Firm-Level Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 2011/09, Maastricht School of Management.
    5. repec:ldr:wpaper:92 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Tasha Naughtin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2016. "The South African manufacturing exporter story," WIDER Working Paper Series 038, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Marianne Matthee & Thomas Farole & Tasha Naughtin & Neil Rankin, 2016. "South African Exporters and the Global Crisis: Intensive Margin Shock, Extensive Margin Hangover," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 84(2), pages 183-198, June.
    8. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2017. "Labour demand and the distribution of wages in South African manufacturing exporters," WIDER Working Paper Series 011, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    South Africa; exports; firms;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • F19 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Other

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