Heterogeneous firms and trade costs: a reading of French access to European agro-food market

This article offers a new reading of intra-European trade based on recent developments in new international economics (Melitz, 2003; Chaney, 2008). These models take the heterogeneity of firms into account and offer a micro-economic analysis of the process of selection at work for firms entering markets. An exporting firm has to bear certain specific costs to break into a market, and only sufficiently productive firms are able to do so. Using individual data for French agro-food firms and the distribution of their exports across European markets, this article shows that access conditions to the various European markets are not identical for French firms: the Belgian market would seem to be a natural extension of the French market, whereas the markets of small, distant countries (Austria, Finland or Sweden) are the least accessible. Econometric analysis based on analysis both of the firm selection process and of the value of their exports shows that the standard geographical variables (distance, country size) affecting the single European market still play a major role in the choice of export markets. Results also reveal that there are still remaining trade costs at entry to the different European markets; but these trade frictions don’t matter to all firms in the same way. The higher the firm experience, the lower the impact of trade costs.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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