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Exporter Dynamics, Superstar Firms, and Trade Policy

March 5, 2018

Washington, DC and Online

  • The backlash against globalization grows by the day. Yet the importance of trade for growth remains as strong as ever, and most developing countries continue to prioritize export growth and diversification in their development strategies. Trade has the power to transform firms, which in turn can boost productivity, growth, and incomes. 

    However, the microeconomic aspects of international integration remain only partially understood, despite significant advances in country-level analysis. What are the key patterns in export participation, survival, expansion, and concentration at the firm level? In this talk, Ana Fernandes will discuss how the Exporter Dynamics Database—a data collection effort made possible by the digitalization of customs agencies around the world—is shedding new light on these questions.

    The data reveal that superstar firms play a vital role in export growth, but are relatively scarce in developing countries, which also see more exporter churning. Export success seems more likely to arise in an environment that encourages not just small and medium-size firms but also large ones. Ana will present the first results of rigorous methods to assess the impact of policies to facilitate trade (e.g. customs reform) and to promote exports (e.g. matching grants).

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    Ana Margarida Fernandes

    Senior Economist

    Ana Margarida Fernandes is a Senior Economist in the Trade and International Integration Unit of the Development Research Group at the World Bank. She joined the World Bank as a Young Economist in 2002. Her research examines the consequences of openness to trade and FDI for firm-level outcomes such as productivity, innovation and quality upgrading and more broadly the determinants of firm performance, including the role of the business environment.


    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt

    Director of Research

    Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Director of Research in the World Bank. After joining the Bank in 1989 as a Young Economist, she has held different positions, including Director of Development Policy, Chief Economist of Financial and Private Sector Development Network, and Senior Research Manager, doing research and advising on financial sector and private sector development issues.


    Caroline Freund

    Direct, Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment Global Practice

    Caroline Freund is Director of Trade, Regional Integration and Investment Climate. Previously she was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She has also worked as Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, after working for nearly a decade in the international trade unit of the research department.

  • The Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the research department and their implications for World Bank operations. The monthly event facilitates a dialogue between researchers and operational staff so that we can challenge and contribute to the World Bank's intellectual climate and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practices. Read More »

Event Details

  • Time: 12:30 - 2:00 PM
  • Location: MC 13-121, World Bank Main Complex