Technology, Trade Costs and Export Sophistication


  • I thank the associate editor, anonymous referee, Russell Hillberry, Roland Hodler, Michael Coelli, Philip McCalman, Reshad Ahsan, and various seminar and conference participants for helpful comments. Responsibility for all errors and omissions is mine.


This paper uses a disaggregated version of the Eaton and Kortum (Econometrica, 70, 2002, 1741) model to analyse the relative importance of technology and trade costs for export sophistication and welfare in a general equilibrium framework. It uses a structural estimation method to identify key parameters of the model that fit the observed trade pattern. The calibrated parameters vary across commodities consistent with their expected level of sophistication. The results are robust to alternative specifications of the calibration. Using fitted data, it also show that export sophistication is highly correlated with GDPper capita. Overall, the parameters are comparable with estimates from other studies. Finally, counterfactual experiments are conducted to quantify the effects of changes in technology and trade costs for the countries in the bottom quintile. The findings imply that these countries have a huge technological disadvantage, particularly in more sophisticated commodities.