The effect of export tax rebates on product quality: evidence from China's agricultural product processing industry

Peer Reviewed
2 September 2021

Yue Liang, Jingqi Dang, Shuai Chen

This study aims to establish the linkage among export tax rebate (ETR), firm innovation and product quality of Chinese agricultural product processing industry (APPI), so that more targeted policy implications can be discussed.

Using highly disaggregated firm-product-destination-level data through 2001 to 2013 of Chinese APPI, this study employs a two-way fixed effects specification to establish the linkage between ETR and product quality, while the mediational model is adopted to examine potential mechanisms.

Baseline estimates show that a 1% increase in ETR rate leads to a significant increase in the product quality of APPI by 0.12% on the whole. However, there is a nonlinear, inverse-U shaped relationship between ETR and product quality, and the optimal inflection point occurs when ERT rate equals 0.15. Mechanism analyses show that firm innovation is an important impact channel, which explains 9.8% of quality improvement induced by raising ETR. Further heterogeneous analyses reveal both the total effects of ETR on product quality and the mediation effects of innovation are dominated by young SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises).

Authorities can promote the innovation and then product quality improvement of young SMEs by moderately increasing ETR rate. To ensure ETR more effective in improving quality, it is necessary for the government to encourage innovation. Authorities can reduce the risk of innovation failure for low-tech firms by increasing R&D subsidies, while ensuring innovation returns for high-tech firms in combination with stronger intellectual property protection.

First, this is one of the earlier studies to explore the relationship between ETR and product quality specifically for Chinese APPI. Second, we show firm innovation as an important mediator so that policies aim at raising ETR rates are eventually beneficial to product quality. Third, using the highly disaggregated data, we allow ETR rate to vary across different products, which is an improvement in the accuracy of previous literature. Finally, our research provides additional empirical evidence for revealing the micro-mechanism of ETR affecting firm behaviors.

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Publication reference
Liang, Y., Dang, J., & Chen, S. (2021). The effect of export tax rebates on product quality: evidence from China’s agricultural product processing industry. China Agricultural Economic Review, 14(2), 315–330.
Publication | 22 March 2022