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CEP discussion paper

Trade Liberalization and Industrial Restructuring through Mergers and Acquisitions


This paper analyzes mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as a previously neglected channel of industrial restructuring in the face of trade liberalization. Using the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1989 as a natural experiment, I show that trade liberalization leads to a significant increase in M&A activity. I also provide evidence that resources are transferred from less to more productive firms in the process and that the magnitude of the overall transfer is quantitatively important. Taken together, these results suggest that M&A is an important alternative to the previously studied adjustment channels of firm and establishment closure and contraction. This has strong implications for the design of competition policy in the wake of trade liberalizations since M&A may offer a more efficient way of transferring resources than contraction and closure of low productivity firms combined with internal growth of more efficient firms.


Holger Breinlich

March 2006     Paper Number CEPDP0717

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Trade programme.