Trade Liberalisation, Exit, and Output and Employment Adjustments of Australian Manufacturing Establishments

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 16/07

Date: May 2007


Alfons Palangkaraya
Jongsay Yong


We use unpublished establishment level data of Australian manufacturing from 1993-94 and 1996-97 censuses to study how trade liberalisation affects productivity. More specifically, we use the variation in the extent of trade liberalisation across four digit ANZSIC manufacturing industries classification to identify the link between trade liberalisation and three outcomes: establishments’ probability of exit, the change in the size of output and the change in employment. There is weak evidence that establishments in industries with greater reductions in effective rate of assistance are more likely to exit. We find strong evidence that they reduce employment. There is no evidence for economies of scale through output expansion. Together these indicate that the documented productivity gains of trade liberalisation may come more from the pro-competitive effects which forces establishments to reduce their slackness rather than from the exit of less efficient establishments.

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