Structural transformation and international trade
Evidence from the China shock
How does international trade affect structural transformation in developing countries? We use data on sectoral allocation of labour and value-added in 46 developing economies over the period 1995–2017 and exploit for identification plausibly exogenous variation in manufacturing imports from China.
We find that the so-called ‘China shock’ largely slows down the transformation of low- and middle-income economies out of agriculture. In our main specification industrialization decreases by 0.49 per cent on average for each additional per cent of manufacturing imports from China. It highlights a competition effect where exposure to Chinese imports is largely detrimental to structural transformation.
These results hold across geographical regions, with a difference in sub-Saharan Africa, where international trade causes an increase in the size of the services sector.