Competition from China has significantly decreased employment and plant growth among Mexican maquiladoras

This paper analyses the effects of the competition between two South locations (Mexico and China) in a Northern market (US). By employing a plant-level data set that covers the universe of Mexican export processing plants (maquiladoras) from 1990 to 2006 and relying on an instrumental variable strategy that exploits exogenous intensification of Chinese imports in the world in conjunction with the WTO accession of China, the empirical analysis reveals a substantial effect of intensified Chinese competition on maquiladoras. In particular, competition from China has a negative and significant impact on employment and plant growth, both through the intensive and the extensive margin. As the negative impact is stronger on the most unskilled labor intensive sectors, it triggers significant sectoral reallocation. Suggestive evidence on industrial upgrading among maquiladoras in response to competition with China is also provided. Overall the results provide additional insight into the way low-wage competition shapes the evolution of industries.

By Hale Utar and Luis Torres Ruiz (2013)