Richard Pomfret, Patricia Sourdin, 23 September 2016

Joining a customs union is supposed to reduce trade with third countries. But after 2004, the largest EU accession countries actually increased their trade with Australia, especially their exports. This column argues that new regional value chains made accession country industries more competitive, especially in the auto industry. Trade with Australia has also been facilitated by a drop in the costs of bilateral international trade.

Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, Min Zhu, 03 September 2016

Amid a persistent fall in oil prices, many oil-exporting countries are realising that economic diversification should be a top priority. One important pathway is to create a dynamic export sector. This column argues the standard policy of structural reforms – which mostly tackle ‘government failures’ rather than ‘market failures’ – are not sufficient. The state needs to intervene to change the incentive structure of firms and workers, and impose a strict accountability framework.

Matthieu Crozet, Julian Hinz, 05 July 2016

Economic sanctions serve as a foreign policy tool, but they can also hurt domestic firms doing business in the target country. This column looks at the effects of sanctions imposed by 37 countries on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. The estimated loss of exports to Russia totalled $3.2 billion per month between December 2013 and June 2015. This loss was mostly incurred by European economies and in products not targeted by retaliations. French firm-level data points to a deterioration of trade finance services as the dominant mechanism.

Stela Rubínová, Emmanuel Dhyne, 04 July 2016

Even in export-oriented industries, only a handful of firms ship their goods abroad. These firms are systematically different from their purely domestic counterparts. This column sheds light on the domestic supply chain of exporters to uncover firms whose production is exported indirectly. Accounting for indirect exporters brings the empirics of international trade closer to the modern structure of production, characterised by many stages in possibly many locations. These findings suggest that the distributional effects of globalisation go beyond the exporters versus non-exporters dichotomy.

Friederike Niepmann, Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, 11 June 2016

To mitigate the risks of international trade for firms, banks offer trade finance products – specifically, letters of credit and documentary collections. This column exploits new data from the SWIFT Institute to establish key facts on the use of these instruments in world trade. Letters of credit (documentary collections) cover 12.5% (1.7%) of world trade, or $2.3 trillion ($310 billion). 

Jérôme Héricourt, Clément Nedoncelle, 11 June 2016

The idea that exchange rate volatility generates additional costs and uncertainty that are detrimental to international trade is widely accepted. This column argues that big, multi-destination firms – which account for the bulk of aggregate exports – reallocate exports across countries as a foreign exchange hedge. When bilateral volatility increases relative to multilateral volatility, exports towards the considered market are hampered, but exports remain mainly unchanged at the macro level.

Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Rosario Crinò, Gino Gancia, 13 January 2016

Inequality, both in firm revenues and wages, varies greatly across sectors, has increased over time and is positively correlated to export opportunities. To explain these observations, this column propose a new theory in which firms’ investment at the entry stage affects the variance of the possible realisations of their productivity. It suggests that export opportunities and competition, besides reallocating resources across existing firms, increase the value of technological heterogeneity. This hints to a new powerful channel through which globalisation is making firms and wages more unequal.   

Willem Thorbecke, 21 December 2015

A good understanding of the evolution of exports over the years is crucial for the design of trade policy. This column dissects Japanese exports using a gravity model and concludes that it would be beneficial for Japanese companies to diversify their exports by shipping more to China, Europe, and South Korea.

Emilie Anér, Anna Graneli, Magnus Lodefalk, 14 October 2015

A large body of research has established a positive link between immigrants and bilateral trade. However, the temporary movement of people across borders has received less attention. This column uses Swedish data to analyse the impact of temporary cross-border movement on trade. Recently arrived migrants are found to reduce the negative impact of distance on foreign trade, by assisting firms to overcome informal and informational barriers to trade with their origin country. Facilitating movement of people across borders can be a highly useful tool for engaging in and benefitting from specialised and internationalised production networks.

Andrew Rose, 01 September 2015

A nation’s hard power is based on its ability to coerce, while its soft power depends on the attractiveness of its culture, political ideals, and policies. This column shows that a country’s soft power has measureable effects on its exports. Countries that are admired for their positive global influence export more, holding other things constant.

Swarnali Ahmed Hannan, Maximiliano Appendino, Michele Ruta, 27 August 2015

The export-less depreciation of the yen has opened a debate on the power of exchange rates to boost exports. This column presents new evidence on how the exchange rate elasticity of exports has changed over time and across countries, and how global value chains have affected it. The upshot is that greater integration in global value chains makes exports substantially less responsive to exchange rate depreciations.

Rosario Crinò, Laura Ogliari, 29 July 2015

The production of high-quality goods influences key aspects of countries’ economic performance, including growth and development. This column argues that removing credit market imperfections may help countries transition from the production of low-quality to high-quality goods, especially in industries that are more sensitive to financial frictions.

Takatoshi Ito, Satoshi Koibuchi, Kiyotaka Sato, Junko Shimizu, 29 June 2015

Japanese firms have been struggling with the yen’s volatility ever since the peg was dropped in 1973. This column, based on a recent survey of Japanese firms, argues that many firms have managed their exchange rate exposure by using operational and financial hedging strategies. It also finds that firms employing currency hedge and invoicing exports in yen are judged by the market to have reduced currency exposures. 

Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg Wright, 17 June 2015

International trade in services and immigration are among the fastest growing aspects of globalisation. Using UK data, this column explores the links between these phenomena. Immigrants promote exports of final services to their home countries, while also reducing imports for some intermediate services, and bringing productivity gains to the labour market. In designing immigration policies, it is important that the potential impact on exports and offshoring activities are carefully considered.

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 16 June 2015

The Global Crisis resulted in many trade barriers and distortions. This column introduces a new eBook that argues that least developed countries were hard hit by these barriers. Drawing on Global Trade Alert data, it argues that these barriers reduced these nations’ exports by 30% during the period 2009 to 2013 – over a quarter of a trillion US dollars in total.

Uri Dadush, 13 March 2015

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.

Otaviano Canuto, Cornelius Fleischhaker, Philip Schellekens, 11 January 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, 25 November 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, 14 July 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 Tybout, 07 July 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.