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Journal article

The buyer margins of firms’ exports


We use detailed data on exporters from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay as well as on their buyers to show that: aggregate exports are disproportionally driven by few multi-buyers exporters; and each multi-buyer exporter's foreign sales of any product in a given destination are in turn accounted for by a dominant buyer. We propose an analytically solvable multi-country model of endogenous selection in which dominant exporters, dominant products and dominant buyers emerge in parallel as multi-product sellers with heterogeneous technologies compete for buyers with heterogeneous needs. The model not only provides an explanation of the existence of dominant buyers but also makes specific predictions on how the relative importance of dominant buyers should vary across export destinations depending on their market size and accessibility. We show that these predictions are borne out by our data and discuss their welfare implications in terms of gains from trade.


Jerónimo Carballo, Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano and Christian Volpe Martincus

1 May 2018


Journal of International Economics 112, pp.33-49, 2018


DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2018.02.001

This Journal article is published under the centre's Trade programme.