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Gatekeepers to consumer markets: the role of retailers in international trade

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This study explores how recent developments in the retail sector affect trade in consumer goods. It focuses on three developments in the retail sector: (i) internationalization; (ii) market structure; and (iii) the growing market share of retailers' private labels. Using gravity model estimation techniques it is found that the foreign operations of a retailer are positively related to imports from the host to the home country of the retailer. Imports are negatively related to ownership concentration, while the market share of private labels is negatively related to imports of food and positively related to imports of non-food consumer goods. For both product categories private labels shift sourcing towards poor countries. The trade response to trade liberalization is higher both at the extensive and intensive margin in countries with lower retail concentration.

Keywords: international trade; market structure; private labels

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate and Department of Economics, University of Bergen,

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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