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"It's Not You, It's Me": Prices, Quality, and Switching in U.S.-China Trade Relationships

Ryan Monarch

The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2022, vol. 104, issue 5, 909-928

Abstract: Costs from switching suppliers can affect prices by discouraging buyer movements from high- to low-cost sellers. This paper uses confidential data on U.S. importers and their Chinese exporters to investigate these costs. I find barriers to supplier adjustments: nearly half of importers keep their partner over time. Importers switch less if their supplier offers higher quality or provides lower prices. I propose and structurally estimate a dynamic discrete choice model to compute switching costs. Cost estimates are large, heterogeneous across products, and matter for trade prices: halving switching costs reduces the U.S.-China Import Price Index by 7.6%.

Date: 2022
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The Review of Economics and Statistics is currently edited by Pierre Azoulay, Olivier Coibion, Will Dobbie, Raymond Fisman, Benjamin R. Handel, Brian A. Jacob, Kareen Rozen, Xiaoxia Shi, Tavneet Suri and Yi Xu

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