How Important is the New Goods Margin in International Trade?
Timothy J. Kehoe
Kim J. Ruhl
We propose a methodology for studying changes in bilateral trade due to countries exporting goods that they did not export previously or exported only in small quantities. Applying this methodology to country pairs that undergo trade liberalization and to pairs in which one of the countries undergoes significant structural transformation, we find large increases on this extensive—or new goods—margin. Looking at country pairs with no major trade policy change or structural change, however, we find little or no increases on the extensive margin. Studying time series on trade by commodity, we find that data from before 1988 and 1989, when most major trading countries moved to the Harmonized System, are not compatible with data from afterward.
International trade ; Free trade
We examine the bilateral trade patterns of countries involved in significant trade liberalizations using detailed data on the value of trade flows by commodity. We find a striking relationship between a good's pre-liberalization share in trade and its growth subsequent to liberalization. The goods that were traded the least before the liberalization account for a disproportionate share in trade following the reduction of trade barriers. The set of goods that accounted for only 10 percent of trade before the liberalization may account for as much as 40 percent of trade following the liberalization. This new finding cannot be accounted for by the standard models of trade, which rely on increases in previously traded goods to produce trade growth. We modify the standard Dornbusch-Fischer-Samuelson model of Ricardian trade to provide a model capable of delivering these new facts. Our specification improves on previous Ricardian models by providing a technology process that can be calibrated using data on intra-industry trade
extensive margin, trade liberalization, Ricardian model
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