Albert L. Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment
There is a surge of interest in the implications of global value chains. These encompass a wholesale reconceptualisation of trade statistics, a renewed focus on the importance of services in economic development, and the possibilities for leveraging GVCs to drive rapid and sustainable growth in income and employment, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The global value chain ‘narrative’ is contested. There is concern that it is being proffered to support the case for developed countries to bypass the WTO’s Doha Round, and that it is simply the latest effort to impose an ill-advised liberalisation agenda on developing countries.
We outline a case for Sub-Saharan Africa to take the GVCs ‘narrative’ seriously. In doing so we address the criticisms highlighted above. We emphasise that GVCs are a critically important feature in today’s world economy, not an ideologically-driven policy prescription. They have to be taken into account by any country seeking to develop exports and grow its economy. Acknowledging the existence and importance of GVCs need not prevent active government intervention to affect resource allocation. On the contrary, GVCs can help shape such measures, but ignoring their importance will doom African countries to failed strategies.
Lawrence, Robert Z. "How Should Sub-Saharan African Countries Think about Global Value Chains?" Bridges Africa Review 2.1 (March 2013): 12-16.