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Economic Integration and Agglomeration of Multinational Production with Transfer Pricing

Kato, Hayato and Okoshi, Hirofumi (2021): Economic Integration and Agglomeration of Multinational Production with Transfer Pricing.

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Abstract

Do low corporate taxes always favor multinational production in the course of eco- nomic integration? To investigate this, we propose a two-country model in which multi- nationals choose the locations of production plants and foreign distribution affiliates and shift profits between home plants and foreign affiliates by manipulating transfer prices in intra-firm trade. We show that when trade costs are high, plants are concentrated in the low-tax country; surprisingly, this location pattern reverses when they are low. Unlike existing models with single-plant firms, the impact of economic integration is non-monotonic: a fall in trade costs first decreases and then increases the share of plants in the high-tax country, which we empirically confirm. We also analyze tax competition and find that allowing for transfer pricing makes competition tougher. This indicates that international coordination on transfer-pricing regulation can potentially make the world better off.

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