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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
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdps:312012
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  1. Borchert, Ingo & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2009. "The crisis-resilience of services trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4917, The World Bank.
  2. Alexander Vogel & Joachim Wagner, 2010. "Higher productivity in importing German manufacturing firms: self-selection, learning from importing, or both?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 145(4), pages 641-665, January.
  3. 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.
  4. Breinlich, Holger & Criscuolo, Chiara, 2010. "International Trade in Services: A Portrait of Importers and Exporters," CEPR Discussion Papers 7837, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Carlo Altomonte & Filippo Di Mauro & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Armando Rungi & Vincent Vicard, 2012. "Global Value Chains During the Great Trade Collapse: A Bullwhip Effect?," CEP Discussion Papers dp1131, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  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. Davis, Steven J & Haltiwanger, John C, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-63, August.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Kelle, Markus & Kleinert, Jörn & Raff, Horst & Toubal, Farid, 2012. "Cross-Border and Foreign-Affiliate Sales of Services: Evidence From German Micro-Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 9016, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Markus Kelle & Jörn Kleinert, 2010. "German Firms in Service Trade," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 56(1), pages 51-72.
  12. Temouri, Yama & Vogel, Alexander & Wagner, Joachim, 2010. "Self-Selection into Export Markets by Business Services Firms: Evidence from France, Germany and the United Kingdom," IZA Discussion Papers 5147, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Mary Amiti & David E. Weinstein, 2011. "Exports and Financial Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1841-1877.
  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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