Trade and Linked Exchange; Price Discrimination Through Transaction Bundling

Choi, C. J., Dassiou, X. & Maldoom, D. (2003). Trade and Linked Exchange; Price Discrimination Through Transaction Bundling (Report No. 03/07). London, UK: Department of Economics, City University London.

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Abstract

In this paper we try to explain how price discrimination can cause bilateral trade patterns of the type seen under countertrade agreements. We interpret countertrade as a form of transaction bundling which can discriminate between potential trading partners and we combine characteristics from both explanations as to the existence of countertrade. There is both price discrimination through transaction bundling, and informational asymmetry in the form of uncertainty in the quality of the goods produced by trading partners in less developed countries (LDCs) leading to a partner preference from the side of the Western (DC) firm. Our paper shows that although the ability of firms in LDCs to overcome their creditworthiness constraints by engaging in countertrade arrangements may be restricted by this quality uncertainty as it reduces the willingness of a firm in a DC to exchange, the trade volume prospects of a firm in a LDC can be considerably enhanced if a countertrade transaction does occur.

Our paper goes beyond the case of linked exchange, which is only one of the three cases of transaction bundling examined. The other two cases are that of the Western firm being a monopoly selling a bundle of two goods used as a benchmark case, and the more interesting case of the Western firm being the buyer of two goods and setting both two separate buying prices and a bundling (i.e. package) purchase price. Many procurement decisions are not simply a matter of price, but also the identity and reputation of the supplier matters, especially when the supplier is located in an LDC. We show than when bundling its purchases, the Western firm buyer will be willing to offer a bundled price greater than the sum of the two separate prices, as the option of a bundled purchase would increase its pro…ts even if there are no complementarities between the goods bundled. In our model the argument is that just as it is profitable for a monopolist to offer mixed bundling at a bundled price which is lower than the sum of the individual prices (hence exploiting the average willingness to pay), it is also profitable for a monopsonist to offer a bundled purchase price which is higher that the sum of the individual prices on offer (hence exploiting the average willingness to sell). Equally interestingly, it is found that a LDC can substantially increase its sales of a good with a high degree of quality uncertainty by being offered to bundle it with the sale of a more basic good with a low degree of quality uncertainty.

Item Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information: © 2003 the authors
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Economics > Department of Economics Discussion Paper Series
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/1421

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