Keiretsu and relationship-specific investment : a barrier to trade?

Barbara J. SPENCER, Larry D. QIU

Research output: Working paperWorking paper series


This paper develops a model of informal procurement within Japanese keiretsu so as to consider effects on intermediate-good imports, such as auto parts. Parts-suppliers make relationship-specific investments that benefit the auto-maker and prices are determined by bargaining after investment has been sunk. Although this investment raises efficiency, it limits the range of imports to less important parts such as tail pipes and it is possible that no parts are imported, despite lower foreign production costs. Lack of information concerning investment rents combined with counterintuitive effects on imports and Japanese production costs could create unwarranted perceptions of a trade barrier.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNBER Working Paper
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research

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