Trade and Growth: Import-Led or Export-Led? Evidence From Japan and Korea

Robert Z. Lawrence, David E. Weinstein

NBER Working Paper No. 7264
Issued in July 1999
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

It is commonly argued that Japanese trade protection has enabled the nurturing and development internationally competitive firms. The results in our paper suggest that when it comes to TFP growth, this view of Japan is seriously erroneous. We find that lower tariffs and higher import volumes would have been particularly beneficial for Japan during the period 1964 to 1973. Our results also lead us to question whether Japanese exports were a particularly important source of productivity growth. Our findings on Japan suggest that the salutary impact of imports stems more from their contribution to competition than to intermediate inputs. Furthermore our results indicate a reason for why imports are important. Greater imports of competing products spur innovation. Our results suggest that competitive pressures and potentially learning from foreign rivals are important conduits for growth. These channels are even more important as industries converge with the market leader. This suggests that further liberalization by Japan and other East Asian countries may result in future dynamic gains. Our results thus call the views of both the World Bank and the revisionists into question and provide support for those who advocate more liberal trade policies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7264

Published: Stiglitz, Joseph E. and Shahid Yusuf (eds.) Rethinking the East Asia Miracle. Oxford University Press and the World Bank, 2001.

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