Learning, Networks and Sunk Costs in International trade: Evidence form Norwegian Seafood Exports


Based on new survey data for 81 Norwegian seafood exporters, the report examines the composition and magnitude of different types of trade costs, ranging from tariffs and transport costs to other sales costs. The results suggest that there are economies of scale in the exporting activity, due to fixed costs of market entry, learning through experience, and externalities between firms so that one exporter benefits from the others via learning or joint marketing effects. Seafood exports strongly rely on personal networks, and firms incur costs in order to establish these networks. On the whole, however, fixed sales costs for seafood exports are small, due to these products being relatively homogeneous. In spite of this, such costs matter for the choice of markets and the magnitude of trade. The report analyses how costs vary across products, firms and markets. For seafood exports, traditional trade barriers such as tariffs and transport costs are more important than the sunk costs. Transport costs do not increase proportionally with geographical distance, mainly since this is not the case for sea transports.