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International harmonization of product standards and firm heterogeneity in international trade


  • Reyes, Jose-Daniel


As free trade areas have proliferated and statutory tariffs have been dramatically reduced in recent decades, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to international trade have risen in importance. Destination-specific product standards are one of the major types of NTBs as they impose additional costs on exporters and increase the time required to bring a product to market. This paper examines the response of U.S. manufacturing firms to a reduction of this NTB by looking at the harmonization of European product standards to international norms in the electronics sector. Using a highly detailed dataset that links U.S. international trade transactions to U.S. firms and a new industry-level database of EU product standards, the author finds that harmonization increases U.S. exports to the EU and that this increase is due to more U.S. firms entering the EU market –the extensive margin of trade. New entrants to the EU region are drawn mainly from the most productive set of firms already exporting to developing markets before harmonization -the extensive margin of trade composition. These firms are characterized by being smaller and less productive than the firms that were already exporting to the EU before harmonization. Furthermore, harmonization decreases export sales at existing exporters -the intensive margin of trade. These findings are consistent with a model featuring the role of product standards heterogeneity across market destinations and productivity heterogeneity across firms. These results suggest that working toward a harmonization of product rules across markets could be a supportive policy to encourage small and medium size firms'ability to enter new export markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Reyes, Jose-Daniel, 2011. "International harmonization of product standards and firm heterogeneity in international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5677, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5677

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maggie Xiaoyang Chen & Aaditya Mattoo, 2008. "Regionalism in standards: good or bad for trade?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(3), pages 838-863, August.
    2. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-1721, September.
    3. Czubala, Witold & Shepherd, Ben & Wilson, John S., 2007. "Help or hindrance ? the impact of harmonized standards on african exports," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4400, The World Bank.
    4. Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2009. "A Concordance Between Ten-Digit U.S. Harmonized System Codes and SIC/NAICS Product Classes and Industries," NBER Working Papers 15548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alberto Portugal‐Perez & José‐Daniel Reyes & John S. Wilson, 2010. "Beyond the Information Technology Agreement: Harmonisation of Standards and Trade in Electronics," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(12), pages 1870-1897, December.
    6. Shepherd, Ben, 2007. "Product standards, harmonization, and trade : evidence from the extensive margin," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4390, The World Bank.
    7. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
    8. Ron S Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2002. "The Longitudinal Business Database," Working Papers 02-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia AUGIER & Olivier CADOT & Marion DOVIS, 2016. "Regulatory harmonization, profits, and productivity: Firm-level evidence from Morocco," Working Papers P162, FERDI.
    2. Kareem, Olayinka Idowu, 2016. "Food safety regulations and fish trade: Evidence from European Union-Africa trade relations," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 18-25.
    3. Anne-Célia Disdier & Lionel Fontagné & Olivier Cadot, 2015. "North-South Standards Harmonization and International Trade," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 327-352.
    4. repec:ksp:journ1:v:4:y:2017:i:3:p:263-274 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cadot, Olivier, 2014. "NTM harmonization, profits, and productivity: Firm-level evidence from Morocco," Papers 780, World Trade Institute.
    6. Fontagné, Lionel & Orefice, Gianluca & Piermartini, Roberta & Rocha, Nadia, 2015. "Product standards and margins of trade: Firm-level evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 29-44.
    7. Lionel Fontagné & Gianluca Orefice & Roberta Piermartini & Nadia Rocha, 2015. "Product Standards and Margins of Trade: Firm-Level Evidence Product Standards and Margins of Trade: Firm-Level Evidence," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" hal-01299757, HAL.
    8. repec:hal:psewpa:hal-00961733 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Disdier, Anne-Célia & Gaigné, Carl & Herghelegiu, Cristina, 2016. "Firm Exports and Quality Standards: Evidence from French Food Industry," 149th Seminar, October 27-28, 2016, Rennes, France 244783, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. Eyal RONEN, 2017. "Quantifying the trade effects of NTMs: A review of the empirical literature," Journal of Economics and Political Economy, KSP Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 263-274, September.
    11. Hoda El-Enbaby & Rana Hendy & Chahir Zaki, 2014. "Do Product Standards Matter for Margins of Trade In Egypt? Evidence from Firm-Level Data," Working Papers 840, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2014.
    12. Olivier CADOT & Patricia AUGIER & Marion DOVIS, 2016. "Regulatory harmonization, profits, and productivity: Firm-level evidence from Morocco," Working Papers P162, FERDI.
    13. World Bank Group, 2016. "Global Economic Prospects, January 2016," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 23435.
    14. Olayinka Idowu Kareem, 2014. "The European Union Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Africa’s Exports," RSCAS Working Papers 2014/98, European University Institute.
    15. Salamat Ali, 2016. "Export Response to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade: Firm-level Evidence from a Developing Country," Discussion Papers 2016-02, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    16. Ederington,Josh & Ruta,Michele, 2016. "Non-tariff measures and the world trading system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7661, The World Bank.

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    Markets and Market Access; E-Business; Information Security&Privacy; Economic Theory&Research; Labor Policies;

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