NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Firm Exports and Multinational Activity Under Credit Constraints

Kalina Manova, Shang-Jin Wei, Zhiwei Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 16905
Issued in March 2011
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI

This paper provides firm-level evidence that credit constraints restrict international trade flows and affect the pattern of foreign direct investment. Using detailed data from China, we show that foreign-owned affiliates and joint ventures have better export performance than private domestic firms, and that this advantage is systematically greater in sectors at higher levels of financial vulnerability measured in a variety of ways. These patterns are manifest in firms' export sales, export product scope and number of export destinations. They are also more pronounced when firms face higher trade costs. This evidence indicates that limited credit availability hinders firms' trade flows, and is consistent with foreign affiliates being less constrained because they can access additional funding from their parent company. Our results further imply that financial frictions and host-country financial institutions affect the sectoral and spatial composition of MNC activity. More broadly, our findings suggest that FDI can compensate for domestic financial market imperfections and alleviate their impact on aggregate growth, trade and private sector development.

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