Research on the performance effects of bargaining remains inconclusive. One reason for this is neglect of heterogeneity of the bargainers, namely differences in exposure to world markets and their implications for international competitiveness. Since the effects of bargaining on competitiveness depend on coping with productivity differentials between the exposed and sheltered sector, we discuss how distinct bargaining structures interact with these differentials. Exposed-sector pattern setting is predicted to be the only bargaining structure that is sensitive to productivity differentials. The findings from time series cross-sectional analysis corroborate the expected impact on labour costs and the current balance, whereas no employment effects are discernible.