Trade or investment? location decisions under regional integration
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This paper studies the production and trade patterns that may arise between two different countries if plant location is introduced as a first step in the producers' decision making. A three-stage game is used: the first deals with location and the next two with capacity and final sales decisions. Demand and cost structures differ by country, and the latter contain specific elements related to the foreign operation. The structure of possible Nash-equilibria is examined and an analysis of the changes in the solution, if the countries engage in an integration process, is made. As in previous models, though global welfare gains may not be very high, single country ones may be considerable, due to changes in the location of the plants. However, even if full integration takes place, global Marshallian welfare may decrease. Conditions which determine a tendency towards multinationalisation are obtained. Assuming a move toward integration, conditions are also provided to characterize when exporting will be preferred to local production. The fact that producers may retain a certain discriminating power, notwithstanding the elimination of barriers to arbitrage, creates a tendency to locate production in the country where prices are higher. This explains why welfare gains may not be obvious. An empirical illustration, with real data from two MERCOSUL countries (Brazil and Argentina) illustrates the possible outcomes.