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The determinants of service imports: The role of cost pressure and financial constraints

  • Biewen, Elena
  • Harsch, Daniela
  • Spies, Julia

This study provides evidence on how German multinational firms have restructured their service activities around the recent crisis. Making use of new micro-level data on service imports of German multinationals from 2002-2008, we assess the determinants of service offshoring along the extensive and intensive margins. In particular, we evaluate how internal frictions in terms of a sharp drop in the sales level (per employee) and external frictions in terms of a reduced availability of credit co-determine the likelihood and the extent of sourcing services from abroad. First, we find that firms are less likely to start to import services from abroad if they are under cost pressure. By contrast, firms intensify existing service imports linkages in times of a sales drop. Second, financial constraints, which played a major role for the goods trade during the crisis, did not have any significant effect on service imports. These results are in line with the argument that the generally observed crisis-resilience of service trade stems from increased pressures to save on variable costs through offshoring and from its lower dependence on external finance. Furthermore, and in line with our argument, we find that a decline in sales and labor productivity induces firms to sort into intra-firm rather than arm's-length trading.

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Paper provided by Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre in its series Discussion Papers with number 31/2012.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdps:312012
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  1. Breinlich, Holger & Criscuolo, Chiara, 2011. "International trade in services: A portrait of importers and exporters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 188-206, July.
  2. Markus Kelle & Jörn Kleinert & Horst Raff & Farid Toubal, 2012. "Cross-Border and Foreign-Affiliate Sales of Services: Evidence from German Micro-Data," Development Working Papers 335, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 16 Jul 2012.
  3. Altomonte, Carlo & di Mauro, Filippo & Ottaviano, Gianmarco & Rungi, Armando & Vicard, Vincent, 2012. "Global value chains during the great trade collapse: a bullwhip effect?," Working Paper Series 1412, European Central Bank.
  4. Robert C. Feenstra & Zhiyuan Li & Miaojie Yu, 2014. "Exports and Credit Constraints under Incomplete Information: Theory and Evidence from China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 729-744, October.
  5. Sebastian Hügelschäffer & Daniel Kromer & Alexander Lipponer, 2009. "Die deutsche Statistik über Direktinvestitionen: Neuerungen und wissenschaftliche Nutzung," AStA Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistisches Archiv, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 157-167, November.
  6. Ines Buono & Harald Fadinger, 2012. "The micro dynamics of exporting: evidence from French firms," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 880, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  7. Mary Amiti & David E. Weinstein, 2009. "Exports and Financial Shocks," NBER Working Papers 15556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction and Employment Reallocation," NBER Working Papers 3728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Markus Kelle & Jörn Kleinert, 2010. "German Firms in Service Trade," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 56(1), pages 51-72.
  10. Wagner, Joachim & Temouri, Yama & Vogel, Alexander, 2011. "Self-Selection into Export Markets by Business Services Firms: Evidence from France, Germany and the United Kingdom," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48700, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  11. Giuliano Conti & Alessia Lo Turco & Daniela Maggioni, 2010. "Exporters in Services: new Evidence from Italian Firms," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 56(1), pages 73-98.
  12. Borchert, Ingo & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2009. "The crisis-resilience of services trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4917, The World Bank.
  13. Alexander Vogel & Joachim Wagner, 2008. "Higher Productivity in Importing German Manufacturing Firms: Self-selection, Learning from Importing, or Both?," Working Paper Series in Economics 106, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  14. Stefano Federico & Enrico Tosti, 2012. "Exporters and importers of services: firm-level evidence on Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 877, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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