Measuring Vertical Specialization: The Case of China
17 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 2011
The explosive growth of Chinese trade may be due to international production fragmentation, but few have assessed these phenomena together, in part, because it is difficult to measure the vertical specialization (VS) of China's trade. Unique features of China's processing trade cause both identification of imported inputs and their allocation across sectors to vary by trade regime. This paper estimates the VS of Chinese merchandise exports, addressing these two challenges. A new method to identify Chinese imported inputs is developed, and used to calculate VS by sector and destination. VS estimates based on the official Chinese input–output table are contrasted with those based on a split table, capturing processing and normal exports separately. Last, the paper tests whether Chinese “export sophistication” can be explained by VS.
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