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A Neo-Heckscher–Ohlin Model of Trade with Endogenous Production Patterns

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We propose a Neo-Heckscher–Ohlin (HO) model of trade that combines comparative endowment advantage, comparative technological advantage, international capital mobility and trade costs. Using an inframarginal approach, we produce a partition of the exogenous parameter space in a host of parameter value subsets that demarcate the various equilibrium patterns of production and trade. The results are startling! They suggest that production within the diversification cone – a key assumption of the Heckscher–Ohlin theory that is required for its core propositions (such as factor price equalisation) to hold – may only prevail on the razor's edge, or under exceptional circumstances. In addition, our findings nominate a mechanism by which improvements in transaction efficiency facilitate international trade thereby stimulating cross-country division of labour. Contrary to other generalisations of the Heckscher–Ohlin (such as the various derivatives of the Kemp–Jones model of trade), our model does not assume a purely Ricardian character: comparative endowment advantage may determine the pattern of trade even in the presence of opposing technological differences, as long as total factor productivity coefficients adjusted for transaction efficiency and factor intensity do not confer unambiguous comparative (technological) advantage. Still, ‘intensity-efficiency’-adjusted comparative technological advantage supersedes factor endowments in determining the flow of trade.
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Keywords: F11; F21

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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