This paper aims to explore whether India’s export basket in the bilateral intra-industry trade (IIT) with two of its top trading partners characterize robust export earnings or not. This is pertinent for two reasons. First, India has a persistent problem of current account deficit for over decades now. Second, whether India’s export diversification strategy by participating in global value chains to improve export share in the world market led to the problem of the fallacy of composition.Design/methodology/approachThis study considers bilateral trade data between India-USA and India-China at the HS-6 digit level over the period 1990–2018. The magnitude of total IIT is computed using the Grubel and Lloyd (1971) index. This paper then uses the unit value dispersion criterion to disentangle the magnitude of total IIT into horizontal and vertical IIT. Through a stepwise econometric exercise, this paper explores the attributes of exported goods in the IIT basket in terms of the directions of ToT, export share and export-price elasticity.FindingsAcross the two country pairs, the major contributors to the upsurge in IIT are five manufacturing industry groups of chemical, plastics and rubber, textiles, base metals and machinery and mechanical appliances. Across the industry groups, the dominant form of IIT has been low vertical IIT. Most of the industry groups do not characterize robust export earnings as the commodity groups have an elastic demand and an increasing trend of Terms of Trade (ToT). The exceptions are the industry groups of chemicals and textiles in India-China and India-USA, respectively.Research limitations/implicationsThe concern of slim export earnings in most industry groups offers scepticism in maintaining the sustainability of the current account. The problem of the fallacy of composition also cannot be ruled out given the dominance of low vertical IIT. This study argues that these industry groups need to engage in labour market reforms and require access to easy credit to achieve competitiveness in the world market.Originality/valueThe analysis performed in this paper attempts to integrate the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis in the context of IIT. Empirical evidence to such an issue is not profound.
International Journal of Development Issues – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 25, 2021
Keywords: Manufacturing industries; Global value chains; Bilateral intra-industry trade; India-China trade; India-USA trade; Prebisch-Singer hypothesis; F14; C20