Mari Tanaka is a fourth-year PhD student in economics at Stanford, examining the effects of enterprise development and international trade in low-income countries. . She holds a masters degree in economics from the University of Tokyo and a bachelors degree from the International Christian University, Japan. Tanaka’s dissertation focuses on the impact of Myanmar’s recent trade opening on local manufacturing firms. She is interested in how trade with the United States, European Union and Japanese buyers affects firms’ management practices and working conditions, particularly safety and health standards. By analyzing data collected in about 400 firms in 2013–14, Tanaka plans to compare the evolutions of those measures in garment plants, an industry heavily affected by trade opening, to processed food plants, an industry little affected because of strict food regulations imposed by developed countries.
An opportunity to export may improve employment and management practices of firms in low-income countries, while the better employment opportunity might come at the cost of safety of workers as sweatshop activists often claim. I examine the impacts of exporting on firm management and workplace practice by collecting data of around 400 firms in Myanmar in every year since 2013. Myanmar is the perfect place to examine this question as it is experiencing rapid opening up to Japan since around 2007 and to European Union and the United States since 2012 and 2013 by the recent democratization and the lifts of trade sanctions. I use firm level variations in products and distance to port before the openings to predict which firms start to export and to identify the impacts of exporting on firm performance. The funding from SCID will be used for the survey in summer 2015.