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Product and Destination Mix in Export Markets

Publication Year 
JEL Code 
D21 - Firm Behavior
F1 - Trade
L25 - Firm Size and Performance
Expansion into foreign markets is a major decision for a firm and it involves choices about which countries to approach and which products to export. We use a new database that covers the universe of export transactions for firms located in Portugal for the period 1996-2005 in order to examine the joint decision of where and what to export. We find that multi-product and multi-destination firms are crucial in explaining the dynamics of export over time. The exporters' portfolio is very diversified in terms of sectors and product tenure and it is frequently modified over time. We show that, while continuing firms exporting continuing products to continuing destinations are fundamental in explaining the year-to-year growth rate of aggregate exports, the contribution of gross entry and exit of both destinations and products is, in absolute value, as important as the contribution of gross entry and exit of firms. Moreover, growth dynamics of new exporters proceeds along lines that are different from those characterizing the representative incumbent firm. The destination extensive margin is almost as important as the destination intensive margin and almost one-third of the latter is due to product switching (the product extensive margin). Firms access new destinations mostly by exporting new products, i.e. products that were not previously sold anywhere else by the firm. Products already exported by the firm to other destinations are an important but not the primary way to enter new destinations.
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