Working Paper

The Birth, Death and Survival of Exports in Zambia 1999 – 2011

“This paper deals with the dynamics of Zambia’s export performance, analyzing the birth, death and persistence of exporting in various products and destinations. We use a framework that has recently proliferated in international trade to decompose the growth of Zambia’s exports into an “intensive” and “extensive” margin. Our results show that the extensive margin is the dominant driver of export growth in Zambia. We attribute the poor performance of the intensive margin to the low survival among exporters that hardly lasts for more than a year. Our findings imply that interventions to support new-exporting should be encouraged. But it also raises key questions on the sustainability of export growth in the long-run. Therefore, we propose that interventions should target improving the duration of survival among exporters and deepen their intensity of exporting once they are able to survive longer. In conclusion, there is urgent need to carefully understand the factors that are responsible for the high mortality among exporters within the first year of birth.”