We ask how export demand shocks associated with the Asian financial crisis affected Chinese exporters. We construct firm-specific exchange rate shocks based on the precrisis destinations of firms' exports. Because the shocks were unanticipated and large, they are a plausible instrument for identifying the impact of exporting on firm productivity and other outcomes. We find that firms whose export destinations experience greater currency depreciation have slower export growth and that export growth leads to increases in firm productivity and other firm performance measures. Consistent with "learning-by-exporting," the productivity impact of export growth is greater when firms export to more developed countries.
Country of focus: China.