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Ariu, Andrea (February 2016): Services versus goods trade. A firm-level comparison. In: Review of World Economics, Vol. 152, No. 1: pp. 19-41

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Using transaction data from Belgium, we provide a descriptive comparison of trade in goods and trade in services at the firm level. From a static perspective, we find that firms trading services are fewer and export and import smaller values than those trading goods. This is because they trade fewer products, with less countries, making fewer transactions and these gaps are only partially counterbalanced by larger transaction values. Instead, firms trading both services and goods are even rarer, but they account for a substantial share of total trade. In the time dimension, services traders experience higher entry and exit rates and a lower survival probability. However, the surviving firms grow more rapidly than those trading goods thanks to an increase in the number of transactions per product-market. Finally, we observe that firms that trade only services add also goods in their export and import basket and vice versa. This is a further important growth channel for firms in international markets.

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