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TNC Strategies and Variations in Intra-firm Trade: The Case of Foreign Manufacturing Affiliates in Sweden

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The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the forms and determinants of intra-firm trade, i.e. international trade between different units under common TNC ownership, this being a major indication of ‘deep economic integration’ between developed countries in the 1990s. Theoretically, intra-firm trade can be explained by the existence of economies of common governance and are often found to be associated with R&D-intensive industries and economies of scale. In empirical studies, intra-firm trade is often found to consist of intermediate inputs goods, resulting in vertically integrated production chains. The study is based on detailed firm-level data from around 300 foreign majority-owned affiliates (MOFAs) in manufacturing, in Sweden in 1993. The results show that intra-firm sales by MOFAs in Sweden are as high as those found in studies of manufacturing affiliates of US TNCs. Almost all of MOFAs' intra-firm exports are finished products, while intra-firm imports consist of material inputs and finished products for resale. This suggests that these MOFAs are only marginal involved in vertically integrated production chains, especially in terms of exports. The results of a regression analysis complement earlier studies by showing that the level and composition of intra-firm trade is significantly affected by the international strategy applied by TNCs when operating foreign manufacturing affiliates. Intra-firm exports of finished products and material inputs are positively associated with efficiency-seeking FDI, e.g. affiliates engaged in rationalised production. Market-seeking FDI is associated with intra-firm imports of complementary finished products for resale. By contrast, resource-seeking and strategic asset-seeking FDI was negatively associated with intra-firm trade.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Human and Economic Geography, School of Economics and Commercial Law, 2: Department of Statistics, School of Economics and Commercial Law

Publication date: 2000-04-01

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