University of Lüneburg Working Paper Series in Economics 365
This paper contributes to the literature by using newly released comprehensive transaction level data on all exports and imports to document facts about the amount of intra-good trade - the simultaneous export and import of identical goods by one firm - in Germany. Combined data for trade transactions and for characteristics of a representative large sample of trading firms are then used to report differences between firms that export and import different goods only (inter-good traders) and firms that engage in the simultaneous export and import of identical goods (intra-good traders). We find that the share of intra-good trade in total trade was some 17 percent in Germany in 2012. Intra-good trade matters. This share differs widely between broadly defined groups of goods and between industries. Controlling for detailed industry affiliation intra-good traders differ significantly from inter-good traders - they are larger, more human capital intensive, more productive, have a higher R&D intensity, and are more profitable. The data, however, are not rich enough to reveal the direction of causality between intra-good trade and firm performance and to investigate empirically the reasons why some firms engage in intra-good trade.