Firms in International Trade
30 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2007
Date Written: May 2007
Standard models of international trade devote little attention to firms. Yet of the 5.5 million firms operating in the United States in 2000, just 4 percent engaged in exporting, and the top 10 percent of these exporting firms accounted for 96 percent of U.S. exports. Since the mid 1990s, a large number of empirical studies have provided a wealth of information about the important role that firms play in mediating countries' imports and exports. This research, based on micro datasets that track countries' production and trade at the firm level, demonstrates that trading firms differ substantially from firms that solely serve the domestic market. Across a wide range of countries and industries, exporters have been shown to be larger, more productive, more skill- and capital-intensive, and to pay higher wages than non-trading firms. Furthermore, these differences exist even before exporting begins.
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