Imported intermediates, technological capabilities and exports: Evidence from Brazilian firm-level data

Caio Torres Mazzi & Neil Foster-McGregor


This paper explores how technological capabilities influence the relationship between imported inputs and the export performance of firms. We apply threshold regression techniques to a representative dataset of Brazilian firms and find a strong positive influence of innovation skills on the relationship between imported intermediates and export revenues. We further find that the complementarities between importing and exporting are stronger for firms that export products with a higher scope for quality differentiation. We also observe that technological capabilities are directly correlated with export performance, confirming the view that innovation positively influences firms' international competitiveness. This relationship is not found to be significant for firms that export products with a low scope for quality differentiation and that export to lower income non-OECD markets. Overall, our results suggest that technological capabilities and the quality of imported inputs not only benefit firms directly but also complement each other in enhancing export competitiveness.

Keywords: imports; exports; productivity; innovation; technological capabilities

JEL Classification: F14, O30

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