Giuseppe Berlingieri, Holger Breinlich, Swati Dhingra, 12 March 2018

There has been a surge in the number of trade agreements over the past two decades. This column investigates the impact of trade agreements implemented by the EU between 1993 and 2013 and asks how consumers benefit from such agreements. The evidence shows that trade agreements increased quality by 7% on average but did not affect prices or variety. This translates into a cumulative reduction in consumer prices of 0.24%, equivalent to savings of €24 billion per year for EU consumers. Higher-income EU countries enjoyed much stronger quality increases and larger overall consumer benefits.

Beata Javorcik, Alessia Lo Turco, Daniela Maggioni, 29 June 2017

Recent research suggests that foreign direct investment makes it more likely that host countries upgrade production. Using the example of Turkey, this column shows that while the presence of foreign affiliates does not seem to affect the propensity of firms to innovate, it is positively correlated with the complexity level of products newly introduced by local supplier firms. Foreign direct investment inflows appear to act as a catalyst to develop sophisticated manufacturing, and should be promoted as part of a domestic industrial policy.

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.

Kazutaka Takechi, 16 July 2015

With mega trade deals currently being negotiated, it is imperative to fully understand the various effects of trade policy. This column focuses on the implications of product quality and the type of trade costs for trade policy. Using data on agricultural prices from Japan, it argues that specific trade costs are more sensitive to geographic distance than ad valorem costs. The welfare effects of policy initiatives such as improving infrastructure may hence be larger than previously thought.

Daniel Bennett, Wes Yin, 14 August 2014

Many drugs sold in poor countries are counterfeit or substandard, endangering patients’ health and fostering drug resistance. Since drug quality is difficult to observe, pharmacies in weakly regulated markets may have little incentive to improve quality. However, larger markets allow firms to reorganise production and invest in technologies that reduce the marginal cost of quality. This column discusses how the entry of a new pharmacy chain in India led incumbents to both cut prices and raise drug quality.

Leonardo Iacovone, Beata Javorcik, 05 April 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.

Torfinn Harding, Beata Javorcik, 30 September 2011

A large literature documents the benefits brought by foreign direct investment to recipient countries in terms of productivity and economic growth. This column argues that another effect is the boosting of the quality of exports. It shows that investment promotion leads to more inflows of FDI, which in turn allow developing countries to upgrade their export basket.

Lionel Fontagné, Guillaume Gaulier, Soledad Zignago, 28 March 2008

China and Germany have nearly the same export profile in terms of breadth, but the prices and quality of their exports differ greatly. Here are some of the policy implications of international specialisation across varieties within products.


CEPR Policy Research