An interesting line of ongoing research pairs transaction-level trade data across countries to provide detailed descriptions of importers, exporters, and their transactional relations. Eaton, Eslava, Krizan, Kugler, and Tybout (in a project titled “A Search and Learning Model of Export Dynamics”, there are various versions, here’s May 2010) have combined 13 years of Colombian export data with US import data, generating many new interesting findings about buyer-seller matches (e.g. “Roughly 80 percent of matches are monogamous in the sense that the buyer deals with only one Colombian exporter and the exporter ships to only one buyer in the United States”). Blum, Claro, and Horstmann have used the other side of the Colombian trade data, studying Chilean-exporter-Colombian-importer pairs. There are also theoretical predictions about international transactional matching that could be tested using such paired data.
In short, this is an exciting new avenue in trade empirics.