While quality upgrading is always viewed positively in both policy and academic circles, little is known about the macro implications for countries of specialising in high-end varieties. This column presents evidence that high-end variety exporters are less sensitive to trade costs. This implies a greater geographic diversification of exports, which compensates for their higher sensitivity to demand shocks and smoothes aggregate volatility. It also increases export growth when business opportunities arise in distant markets.
Fixed and sunk costs are widely accepted as important determinants of export behaviour. This column argues that such costs may be shared by agglomerated collections of firms, and presents evidence of agglomeration’s effects on exporting in China. Agglomeration is more effective in low-tech sectors and land-locked areas. Surprisingly, the effect of agglomeration is different for indigenous and foreign firms.
During the recent turmoil in the Eurozone, little attention has been paid to one of the euro’s founding objectives – price convergence. This column argues that the euro has in fact been very successful in this regard. In a study of the pricing behaviour of Apple, IKEA, H&M, and Zara, the authors find that price dispersion is 30–50% lower for countries in a currency union than for those with a fixed exchange rate.
Two regional trade agreements are centre of attention in Ukraine: the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU – that for the time being Ukraine has rejected – and the Eurasian Customs Union with Russia, that Ukraine has been invited (or pressured) to join. Rather than choosing between the two, Ukraine should focus on reducing policy frictions that negatively affect trade through processes that mobilise firms and industries on both sides of the border. The recent proposal by Ukraine to establish a joint commission among Ukraine, Russia and the EU to promote trade could be a step in this direction.
Preferential trade agreements have been proliferating since the 1990s. However, research that focuses on differences of design of such agreements is scarce. This column analyses whether this is the case by exploring the effect of depth of preferential trade agreements on trade flows. It concludes that deep agreements have larger trade flow effects than shallow ones.
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