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Entrepreneurship and aggregate merchandise trade growth in New Zealand

Richard Fabling, Lynda Sanderson

We present a descriptive analysis of firm-level merchandise trade, focussing on the role of entrepreneurial exporting behaviour. We document two aspects of the dynamics of trade – the contribution of novel export activity to aggregate trade growth and, conversely, the substantial exit rates of new trade relationships. The unique contribution of this paper lies in the detailed and comprehensive data we have available on market and product choices. Specifically, we make use of shipment-level goods trade data, linked to information for the universe of economically active New Zealand manufacturers,to examine trade at the firm-level and at the product-country-firm nexus. Our growth decomposition and survival analysis suggest several themes - (a) novel market entry is a significant contributor to aggregate export growth; (b) the study of international entrepreneurial behaviour should encompass not just de novo entrants, but the broad range of trade innovations initiated by incumbent exporters; (c) much expansion in trade appears to be incremental in nature; (d) despite this, such innovations appear to be inherently risky; and (e) experience and scale appear to be key factors in overcoming these risks (or at least proxies for such factors).
Fabling, Richard and Lynda Sanderson (2010). ‘Entrepreneurship and aggregate merchandise trade growth in New Zealand’, Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, Volume 8(2), Pages 182-199, DOI: