Manufacturing is often seen as the key to sustainable export and productivity growth in developing countries. This column argues that, while manufacturing played a key role in some countries’ development, high growth can be sustained without relying primarily on manufacturing. A process of learning, productivity improvement, and investment that touches all sectors characterises the most successful economies. Policies that artificially favour manufacturing should instead give way to maximising learning from the frontier in all sectors of the economy.
Uri Dadush, Friday, March 13, 2015
Otaviano Canuto, Cornelius Fleischhaker, Philip Schellekens, Sunday, January 11, 2015
While Brazil has become one of the largest economies in the world, it remains among the most closed economies as measured by the share of exports and imports in GDP. This column argues that this cannot be explained simply by the size of Brazil’s economy. Rather it is due to a reliance on domestic value chain integration as opposed to participation in global production networks. Greater trade openness could produce efficiency gains and help Brazil address its productivity and competitiveness challenges.
Atsuyuki Kato, Tuesday, November 25, 2014
A large literature shows the importance of firm heterogeneity in determining trade patterns. This column discusses policy implementation issues related to the ‘new new trade theory’. The nature of an export good – be it consumption or production oriented – influences the importance of firm productivity in the export decision. The relationship between productivity and markups also varies across industries; pro-export policies must take account of this, lest they exacerbate distortion.
Maria Bas, Vanessa Strauss-Kahn, Monday, July 14, 2014
The rise of trade in intermediate inputs is well documented, but its role in shaping domestic economies is not yet completely understood. This column presents evidence from French firms on the effects of importing intermediate inputs. Firms importing more varieties of intermediate inputs increased their productivity and exported more varieties. Foreign inputs from the most advanced economies have the strongest effect on firm productivity, but imported inputs from all countries help raise the number of export varieties.
Kerem Cosar, Nezih Guner, James R Tybout, Monday, July 7, 2014
Trade liberalisations are often accompanied by labour market reforms, making it difficult to isolate their effects. This column discusses the effects of trade liberalisation, globalisation, and labour-market reforms on the Colombian labour market. Reduced trade frictions increased cross-firm wage inequality and shifted the firm-size distribution rightward, with offsetting effects on overall wage inequality. Average income increased, but the gains were concentrated among employees of large, productive firms with access to export markets. Greater trade openness also increased job turnover.
Filippo di Mauro, Francesco Pappadà, Monday, June 2, 2014
Trade imbalances in the Eurozone require relative price adjustments. This column argues that the traditional ‘elasticity’ approach is lacking when thinking about the adjustment magnitude. Exports adjust when exporting firms sell more (intensive margin) and new firms start exporting (extensive margin). The extensive-margin reaction depends upon the fatness of firm-level productivity distributions. Surplus-country distributions have fatter tails than deficit countries, suggesting that the price adjustment magnitude may be larger than traditional calculations suggest.
Julien Martin, Florian Mayneris, Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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.
Balázs Égert, Rafał Kierzenkowski, Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Decreasing world market share in exports threatens France’s recovery. Traditional determinants of exports do not fully explain the downturn. This paper presents a novel explanation for France’s declining exports: the real-estate boom. Strong profitability in the construction industry, led by rising house prices, diverted capital and labour from export-intensive industries. These results suggest a strong warning against policies supporting property ownership as an end in itself.
Holger Görg, Marina-Eliza Spaliara, Friday, September 13, 2013
International trade declined dramatically during the Global Crisis. This column focuses on UK firms that exited from exporting during the Global Crisis. The evidence clearly points to the importance of financial factors. Firms that exited were more heavily indebted, less liquid, and faced higher firm-specific interest rates.
Jerónimo Carballo, Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Christian Volpe Martincus, Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Firm-level data has told us much about exporters, but little about export buyers. This column discusses new research that shows how buyer margins can be a critical channel through which trade policies influence aggregate exports. Reaching a larger number of buyers is an important vehicle of export expansion, both at the country level and at the firm level. As buyer margins are important, they should be incorporated into the assessment of policies such as export promotion and customs facilitation.
Danielken Molina, Marc Muendler, Monday, May 27, 2013
Exporting is essential for economic development. But can firms move from local sales to export sales? How do firms prepare for exporting? This column presents new research showing that worker mobility is an important mechanism by which exporter knowledge spreads through the economy.
Mary Amiti, Oleg Itskhoki, Jozef Konings, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Why is it that large movements in exchange rates have small effects on international prices? What does this mean for a crisis-stricken Eurozone? Using firm-level data, this column presents new research that investigates this exchange rate ‘disconnect’. Evidence suggests that the prices of the largest firms – with their disproportionately large share of trade – are insulated from exchange rate movements. The international competitiveness effects of a euro devaluation are therefore likely to be modest, given major exporters’ reliance on global supply chains.
Barry Eichengreen, Poonam Gupta, Friday, January 18, 2013
Increasingly, services form a larger and larger share a country’s exports. Do exchange rates matter as much for services and they do for goods exports? This column argues that they do. Distinguishing between traditional services (such as trade and transport, tourism, financial services and insurance) and modern services (such as communications, computers, information services) suggests that the effect of the real exchange rate is especially large for exports of modern services.
Aoife Hanley, Joaquín Monreal-Pérez, Monday, November 5, 2012
How can Spanish firms innovate to overcome strong economic headwinds? This column presents empirical evidence to show that, in a time of economic crisis, Spanish firms would do well to orient themselves toward foreign markets. The authors propose that there could well be mutiple – and durable – benefits to both the firms and the Spanish economy.
David B Audretsch, Mark Sanders, Lu Zhang, Sunday, September 2, 2012
Industrial development has long been considered crucial to economic growth and a higher standard of living. But what role do exports play in this story? This column confirms earlier findings that what products you export matters for growth – but shows that it also matters when you export them.
Yasuyuki Todo, Thursday, June 7, 2012
How do firms go international? This column reviews evidence from industrialised and emerging economies, including Japan and China, with some surprising findings.
Leonardo Iacovone, Beata Javorcik, Thursday, April 5, 2012
How do firms adapt their products before starting to export? This column argues they upgrade their products’ quality. Using data from Mexico, it shows that producers tend to enjoy a price premium on the domestic market relative to other companies producing the same product. This premium appears exactly one year before the product is exported, suggesting producers are getting ready to export.
Jamal Ibrahim Haidar, Saturday, February 18, 2012
Recent theoretical and empirical trade research has shifted from analysing aggregate trade flows to studying the behaviour of exporters. This column examines the case of Jordan and finds that multi-product exporters in Jordan look remarkably similar to their US and French counterparts, confirming the predictions of recent theoretical models. It adds that this implies the policy focus should be on raising the number of exporters, not on helping the existing superstars.
Willem Thorbecke, Sunday, January 29, 2012
Understanding China’s economy is becoming as difficult as it is important. This is particularly the case for China’s exports and its exchange rate, which have been the source of controversy and intense debate in recent years. Shedding light on the issue, this column disaggregates China’s processing trade, with some surprising implications for policy in the region and elsewhere.
Nicolas Berman, Antoine Berthou, Jérôme Héricourt, Friday, December 16, 2011
The synchronised poor growth in European countries can be explained by many factors, including trade and financial linkages. This column argues that firms’ domestic sales are directly affected by the fall in their exports. Using French firm-level data and the Asian Crisis as a foreign-demand shock, it finds that domestic sales were 5% lower for firms exposed to the crisis. It suggests that this is because the cash flow generated by exports may be used by firms to finance domestic operations in the short term.