The Impact of 3D Printing on Trade and FDI
39 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 30, 2015
This paper analyzes the effects of 3D printing technologies on the volume of trade and on the structure of FDI. A standard model with firm-specific heterogeneity generates three main predictions. First, 3D printers are introduced in areas with high economic activity that also face high transport costs. Second, technological progress related to 3D printing machines leads to a gradual replacement of FDI that relies on traditional production structures with FDI based on 3D printing techniques. At this stage international trade stays unaffected. Finally, at later stages, with 3D printing machines being widely used, further technological progress in 3D printing leads to a gradual replacement of international trade. Empirical evidence indicates that countries subject to higher transport costs and with high levels of economic activity are indeed among the ones that import more 3D printers. Anecdotal evidence also supports the second and third predictions of the model.
Keywords: 3D printing, FDI, trade, technological change, transport costs
JEL Classification: F10, F23, O33
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