Service Regulations, Input Prices and Export Volumes: Evidence from a Panel of Manufacturing Firms

Using a panel of firm‐level data from Spanish manufacturers, this study shows that better service regulation reduces the price of intermediate inputs paid by downstream firms. The beneficial cost effects of services reforms extend to both large and small‐to‐medium sized corporations (SME’s), but the former tend to enjoy greater gains. This feature also manifests itself in international markets. We find evidence of an input cost channel through which service regulations affect the volume of exports of large manufacturers, while the evidence of such a channel is weaker for SME’s. Our estimates indicate that, from 1991 to 2007, large firms increased their volume of exports by an average of 20 per cent as a result of the direct input cost effect of services reforms, such that the firms that benefited the most typically belonged to industries more dependent on service inputs. Furthermore, convergence to the ‘best practice’ regulatory framework in services would have raised exports at least by an additional nine per cent. We conclude that firm size is relevant for the connection between services reforms, intermediate input prices and export volumes.