International trade

Masayuki Morikawa, 22 May 2015

World trade in services is increasing rapidly but micro evidence remains scarce. This column employs firm data from Japan to argue that service-exporting firms are more productive than non-exporting firms and goods-exporting firms. Information asymmetry, transportation costs, differences in institutions, cultures, and languages increase the fixed costs of service trade. Therefore, highly productive firms are more likely to self-select into service trade.   

Timothy J. Sturgeon, 20 May 2015

With global value chains that fragment production across the world, national statistics fail to capture the growing interconnectedness of economies. This column describes the international input-output tables that allow researchers to estimate the share of a country’s export value derived from imported inputs. However, while these tools offer promising uses, at the moment statistics on trade in value added should be treated with great caution.

Peter Debaere, Amanda Kurzendoerfer, 12 May 2015

Water management is a major challenge today. To guide efficient water allocation, it is essential to understand the drivers of water use. This column sheds light on this issue using US data from the 1950s until today. The findings show that US water withdrawal has stabilised, and has even decreased in the past decades. Technological improvements have been crucial towards that end. However, the shifting demand from agriculture and manufacturing to less-water intensive sectors has been just as important.

Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Huanhuan Zheng, 04 May 2015

China’s export-led growth has coincided with the country becoming one of the largest net global creditors. This column looks ahead to the next chapter of Chinese ‘outwards mercantilism’ – FDI investment in natural resources, commodities and mining bundled with access to finance and the export of Chinese capital products and labour services.

Emily Blanchard, Xenia Matschke, 30 April 2015

Recent decades have witnessed a dramatic shift in the nature of world trade brought about by the unbundling of international production. One implication is that lobbying by a nation’s firms can be partly influenced by a desired to protect their production facilities abroad. This column presents evidence that US imports from countries and industries with greater offshoring activity by US multinationals face distinctly lower trade barriers. 

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