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  • Author: Jie Bai, Jiahua Liu
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: It is well known that various forms of non-tariff trade barriers exist within a country. Empirically, it is difficult to measure these barriers as they can take many forms. We take advantage of a nationwide VAT rebate policy reform in China as a natural experiment to identify the existence of these intranational barriers due to local protectionism and study the impact on exports and exporting firms. As a result of shifting tax rebate burden, the reform leads to a greater incentive of the provincial governments to block the domestic flow of non-local goods to local export intermediaries. We develop an open-economy heterogenous firm model that incorporates multiple domestic regions and multiple exporting technologies, including the intermediary sector. Consistent with the model’s predictions, we find that rising local protectionism leads to a reduction in interprovincial trade, more “inward-looking” sourcing behavior of local intermediaries, and a reduction in manufacturing exports. Analysis using micro firm-level data further shows that private companies with greater baseline reliance on export intermediaries are more adversely affected.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Reform, Tariffs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jie Bai, Panle Barwick, Shengmao Cao, Shanjun Li
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Are quid pro quo (technology for market access) policies effective in facilitating knowledge spillover to developing countries? We study this question in the context of the Chinese automobile industry where foreign firms are required to set up joint ventures with domestic firms in return for market access. Using a unique dataset of detailed quality measures along multiple dimensions of vehicle performance, we document empirical patterns consistent with knowledge spillovers through both ownership affiliation and geographical proximity: joint ventures and Chinese domestic firms with ownership or location linkage tend to specialize in similar quality dimensions. The identification primarily relies on within-product variation across quality dimensions and the results are robust to a variety of specifications. The pattern is not driven by endogenous joint-venture network formation, overlapping customer base, or learning by doing considerations. Leveraging additional micro datasets on part suppliers and worker flow, we document that supplier network and labor mobility are important channels in mediating knowledge spillovers. However, these channels are not tied to ownership affiliations. Finally, we calibrate a simple learning model and conduct policy counterfactuals to examine the role of quid pro quo. Our findings show that ownership affiliation facilitates learning but quality improvement is primarily driven by the other mechanisms.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Developing World
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jie Bai, Ludovica Gazze, Yukun Wang
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Collective reputation implies an important externality. Among firms trading internationally, quality shocks about one firm’s products could affect the demand of other firms from the same origin country. We study this issue in the context of a large-scale scandal that affected the Chinese dairy industry in 2008. Leveraging rich firm-product level administrative data and official quality inspection reports, we find that the export revenue of contaminated firms dropped by 84% after the scandal, relative to the national industrial trend, and the spillover effect on non-contaminated firms is measured at 64% of the direct effect. Notably, firms deemed innocent by government inspections did not fare any better than noninspected firms. These findings highlight the importance of collective reputation in international trade and the challenges governments might face in signaling quality and restoring trust. Finally, we investigate potential mechanisms that could mediate the strength of the reputation spillover. We find that the spillover effects are smaller in destinations where people have better information about parties involved in the scandal. New firms are more vulnerable to the collective reputation damage than established firms. Supply chain structure matters especially in settings where firms are less vertically integrated and exhibit fragmented upstream-downstream relationships.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Business , Global Political Economy, Accountability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jeong Hyung-Gon
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Since the global economic crisis triggered in the United States in 2008, the East Asian economic region has received particular attention as it achieved relatively solid economic growth compared to developed countries, which struggled with recession. The discussion on economic cooperation and economic liberalization within East Asia has mainly focused on the RCEP, with this discussion being led by ASEAN as it calls for ASEAN centrality. ASEAN is currently the second-largest overseas investment destination and second-largest trading partner for South Korea, making it an important partner in economic cooperation for South Korea. Particularly, as China is openly implementing economic retaliatory measures against South Korea for the deployment of THAAD missiles in the nation, South Korea has become more interested in the ASEAN market as it strives to diversify its trade and investment portfolio. Under this background, this research examines the characteristics of ASEAN FDI by income level and doing business conditions, then conducts an empirical analysis of determination factors to draw policy implications for stronger economic cooperation with ASEAN.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Lee Sooyoung
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The last decade of the world trade has been marked by an unprecedented collapse, quick recovery, slowdown, another drop, and recovery. To study cyclical and structural aspects of the recent trend of trade, I use both aggregate and disaggregated trade statistics of a small open economy, South Korea, whose economic success and growth have been heavily dependent on exports. The aggregate trend of the country is surprisingly similar to that of the world, which is why the trend of Korea's export is called a proxy for the world. I show that while the last drop of trade after 2015 has cyclical aspects, there is evidence that the continued slowdown from 2012 is structural: (1) the so-called `China factor' is found in the analysis of trade-income elasticity of the world and China for imports from Korea. (2) The bilateral trade barriers between Korea and its important trading partners are universally tightening. I also show that the firm sizes, destination countries, and the mode of transactions affect disaggregated trade flows during the slowdown periods. It is advisable to diversify main export products to lower the effect of oil prices on export prices and to strengthen the cooperation with ASEAN countries, whose trade barriers have exceptionally diminished throughout the last decade.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Kim Sujin
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Even at near-zero interest rates for a prolonged period since the financial crisis, why has business investment in advanced economies remained persistently below its pre-crisis level? This paper investigates empirically the roots of this investment puzzle from the global megatrend perspective. The empirical model of this study augmented the uncertainty-finance accelerator investment model with megatrend variables of a transition to service industry, ageing population and a rise in income inequality. The main estimation results show that they have affected negatively the business investment over the period 1980-2014. The shift-to-service driven investment fall is the price-dominant effect during the transition, which is not necessarily pessimistic news, while the suppressing effects from ageing and a rise in income inequality require adequate policy reactions. In addition, the analysis finds significant negative spillover effects of trade partners' ageing and income inequality on a country's own private investment. Based on the empirical results, I expect that the G20’s efforts in inclusiveness with structural reforms will stimulate global business investment.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia