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Trade intermediation and the organization of exporters

  • Felbermayr, Gabriel J.
  • Jung, Benjamin

The business literature and recent descriptive evidence show that exporting firms typically require the help of foreign trade intermediaries or need to set up own foreign wholesale affiliates. In contrast, conventional trade theory models assume that producers can directly access foreign consumers. This paper introduces intermediaries in an international trade model where producers differ with respect to productivity as well as regarding their varieties' perceived quality and tradability. We assume that trade intermediation is prone to frictions due to the absence of enforceable cross-country contracts while own wholesale subsidiaries require capital investment. We derive the sorting pattern of firms according to their degree of competitive advantage and show how the relative prevalence of intermediation depends on the degree of heterogeneity among producers, on the importance of market-specificity of goods, or on expropriation risk. We use US export data for 50 sectors and 133 destination countries to check the empirical validity of this predictions and find robust empirical support.

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Paper provided by University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics in its series Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge with number 331.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuedps:331
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  1. Francine Lafontaine & Margaret Slade, 2007. "Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries: The Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 629-685, September.
  2. Antràs, Pol & Costinot, Arnaud, 2010. "Intermediation and Economic Integration," CEPR Discussion Papers 7697, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Robert C. Feenstra & John Romalis & Peter K. Schott, 2002. "U.S. Imports, Exports, and Tariff Data, 1989-2001," NBER Working Papers 9387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  5. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2008. "Information Costs, Networks and Intermediation in International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0848, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  7. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Jung, Benjamin, 2011. "Trade intermediation and the organization of exporters," Munich Reprints in Economics 20574, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Sebastian Krautheim, 2007. "Export-Supporting FDI," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/24, European University Institute.
  9. Paul Bergin & Reuven Glick, 2005. "Tradability, Productivity, and Understanding International Economic Integration," Working Papers 514, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  10. Antràs, Pol & Costinot, Arnaud, 2010. "Intermediated Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 7696, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Ignatius J. Horstmann & James R. Markusen, 1995. "Exploring New Markets: Direct Investment, Contractual Relations and the Multinational Enterprise," NBER Working Papers 5029, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2006. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_022, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  13. Robert C. Feenstra, 1997. "U.S. Exports, 1972-1994: With State Exports and Other U.S. Data," NBER Working Papers 5990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Ahn, JaeBin & Khandelwal, Amit K. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2011. "The role of intermediaries in facilitating trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-85, May.
  15. Akerman, Anders, 2010. "A Theory on the Role of Wholesalers in International Trade based on Economies of Scope," Research Papers in Economics 2010:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  16. Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Scholarly Articles 3196327, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2008. "Competing for Contacts: Network Competition, Trade Intermediation and Fragmented Duopoly," CEP Discussion Papers dp0854, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  18. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Lafourcade, Miren & Mayer, Thierry, 2005. "The trade-creating effects of business and social networks: evidence from France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-29, May.
  19. Nunn, Nathan, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," Scholarly Articles 4686801, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Jennifer Abel-Koch, 2011. "Firm Size and the Choice of Export Mode," Working Papers 1105, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 29 Mar 2011.
  21. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  22. Daniel F. Spulber, 1996. "Market Microstructure and Intermediation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 135-152, Summer.
  23. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Integration Versus Outsourcing In Industry Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 85-120, February.
  24. Aeberhardt, Romain & Buono, Ines & Fadinger, Harald, 2014. "Learning, incomplete contracts and export dynamics: Theory and evidence from French firms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 219-249.
  25. Bernardo S. Blum & Sebastian Claro & Ignatius Horstmann, 2010. "Facts and Figures on Intermediated Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 419-23, May.
  26. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Harald Trabold, 2002. "Export Intermediation: An Empirical Test of Peng and Ilinitch," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 33(2), pages 327-344, June.
  28. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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