China's Exporters and Importers:
Firms, Products, and Trade Partners
International Monetary Fund
June 27, 2008
Preliminary and incomplete. Please do not distribute.
This paper provides a detailed overview of China’s participation in international trade
using newly available data on the universe of globally engaged Chinese firms over the 2003-2005
period. We document the distribution of trade flows, product- and trade-partner intensity across
both exporting and importing firms, and study the relationship between firms’ intensive and
extensive margins of trade. We also compare trade patterns across firms of different organizational
structure, distinguishing between domestic private firms, domestic state
owned firms, foreign-
owned firms, and joint ventures. We explore the variation in foreign ownership across sectors, and
find results consistent with recent theoretical and empirical work on the role of credit constraints
and contractual imperfections in international trade and investment. Finally, we examine the rapid
expansion of China’s trade over the 2003
2005 period, and decompose it into its extensive and
intensive margins. We also use monthly data and study the frequent churning and reallocation of
trade flows across firms and across products and trade partners within firms.
JEL Classification codes: F10, F14, F23.
Keywords: exporters, importers, multinational firms, margins of trade.
* Kalina Manova, Department of Economics, Stanford University, 579 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305,
Zhiwei Zhang, International Monetary Fund, ZZhang@imf.org.