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The Micro Dynamics of Exporting: Evidence from French Firms

Buono, Ines and Fadinger, Harald and Berger, Stefan (2008): The Micro Dynamics of Exporting: Evidence from French Firms.

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Abstract

This paper describes the dynamics of firms' exports to different countries. Using a panel of almost 19,000 French exporters, we define an export-relation as an observed positive export flow from a French firm to a destination. We establish the following facts: 1. There is a great deal of dynamics in firms' export relations that washes out at a more aggregate level; 2. Export values shipped by individual firms to specific destinations are very volatile: most of the changes occur within established export relations (intensive margin), with new relations or relations that are terminated (extensive margin)contributing little to adjustments in export value at firm level ; 3. Export flows within a newly-created relation involve very small values, often inferior to 1000 euros; 4. Export-relations are also very volatile. Moreover, from year to year single firms create and destroy relations simultaneously, and countries are simultaneously involved in the formation and termination of relations; 5. Formation or termination of export relations and changes in export values are explained mostly by firm-country specific shocks; 6. The share of relations continued from one year to the next is correlated with country characteristics: it is higher in bigger and closer markets. We discuss how those findings could be related to different kind of heterogeneous firm models and to a relation-specific trade model, arguing that the second one seems to fit more naturally all the documented facts.

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