Trade flows in the age of automation

This report analyzes four digital innovations that have the potential to disrupt global value chains: the Internet of Things (IoT); blockchain; artificial intelligence (AI); and advanced manufacturing. While advances in information and communication technology have largely worked in concert in the past to support the expansion and fragmentation of global value chains the impact of these innovative digital technologies are unlikely to be uniform. The report evaluates these new technologies in the context of financial, pharmaceutical, and automotive industries to arrive at three key takeaways. First, the private sector’s competitiveness will increasingly depend on an ability to collect, store, organize, and analyze data. Second, regional value chains will emerge as global trade orients more around regional poles. And third, big tech firms could disrupt global value chains, although it appears as likely that they will collaborate with existing firms in established markets. The report was published by the Atlantic Council and written by Jack Daly and Nick Brown, related experts Bart Oosterveld and Ole Moehr.

Global Value Chain Mapping

Abstract: Global value chain research has evolved over the last two decades from a theoretical framework to an applied research approach widely used in industrial organization and development studies to address a myriad of research questions. A key element of conducting such research is establishing a clear, repeatable process to identify and describe the stakeholders and concepts of the analysis across a range of industries and topics. The global value chain (GVC) research approach has two main steps: value chain mapping (identifying who and where) and value chain analysis (the what and why). This chapter focuses on value chain mapping – the process of identifying the structural elements along the value chain, including firms, workers, activities, products, and places. It includes steps and data sources to define the scope of an industry using a combination of international standardized classification systems and insights from existing research and fieldwork. The general approach is presented along with industry-specific examples of how the process has been applied in GVC studies. This chapter was written by Stacey Frederick and appears as Chapter 1 in the Handbook on Global Value Chains.

The Rise of Digital Companies and Strategies: Case Studies in the U.S. and Korea

This article is related to research conducted as part of the collaboration between KIET and GVCC. The article was published in the March/April 2019 KIET Industrial Economic Review, Volume 24, Issue Number 2, p. 14-21.

Industries without Smokestacks: Africa and Tourism GVCs

With tourism representing a very significant source of exports and foreign investment in Africa, the industry will continue to be a major economic engine moving forward. While there are opportunities, some characteristics of the global industry can impede Africa’s development if policy makers do not recognize and design strategies to alleviate many constraints for firms and other stakeholders. Chapter 4, Tourism Global Value Chains and Africa by Jack Daly and Gary Gereffi, explores the overall landscape of the tourism industry and how it influences Africa’s competitiveness.

Global Value Chains and International Development: Framework, Findings and Policies

Global Value Chains and International Development: Framework, Findings and Policies is a separate collection of GVC essays that have been published in Chinese.

The chapters are as follows:

1. Global Value Chain Analysis: A Primer

Gary Gereffi and Karina Fernandez-Stark

2. The Global Economy: Organization, Governance, and Development

Gary Gereffi

3. The Governance of Global Value Chains

Gary Gereffi, John Humphrey, and Timothy Sturgeon

4. Development Models and Industrial Upgrading in China and Mexico

Gary Gereffi

5. Global Commodity Chains, Market Makers, and the Rise of Demand-Responsive Economies

Gary G. Hamilton and Gary Gereffi

6. Global Value Chains, Development, and Emerging Economies

Gary Gereffi

7. Risks and Opportunities of Participation in Global Value Chains

Gary Gereffi and Xubei Luo

8. Economic and Social Upgrading in Global Value Chains and Industrial Clusters: Why Governance Matters

Gary Gereffi and Joonkoo Lee

9. Global Value Chains in a post-Washington Consensus World

Gary Gereffi

Vietnam at a Crossroads – Engaging in the Next Generation of Global Value Chains

Vietnam has emerged as an Asian manufacturing powerhouse, carving out a role for itself within global value chains (GVCs). In this World Bank Group publication, readers will gain a strong understanding of Vietnam’s current and potential engagement with GVCs and will learn about strategic policy tools that can help developing countries achieve economic prosperity in the context of compressed development. Its findings will be of particular interest to policy makers, development practitioners, and academics. Duke researcher Stacey Frederick authored chapter 7 of this publication. The chapter covers Vietnam’s textile and apparel industry and trade networks.

Labour in Global Value Chains in Asia

Participation as suppliers in Global Value Chains has provided many benefits to Asia such as increased employment in higher value activities, reduction in poverty and the heightened participation of women in these modern sectors. There are also weaknesses in these developments such as the continuation of sweatshop conditions in several sectors, among other concerns. The book Labour in Global Value Chains in Asia unpacks these different positives and negatives and identifies spaces for progressive action and policies in the current GVC-linked global work environment.

Edited by scholars Dev Nathan (Institute for Human Development in India and Visiting Research Fellow at Duke University), Meenu Tewari (University of North Carolina) and Sandip Sarkar (Institute for Human Development in India), many of the 21 chapters in this book are derived from field research carried out as part of the multi-year Capturing the Gains research project(2010–2013), which was co-directed by Stephanie Barrientos, Associate Director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute at The University of Manchester, and Gary Gereffi, Director of the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (and an author of one of the chapters in the Labour in Global Value Chains in Asia book). In the below Q and A, Nathan summarizes key findings from the book.


The key takeaways are:

· The benefits to labor in Asian developing countries have improved, not remained stagnant. For example, we have seen minimum wage increases among garment suppliers (Bangladesh), more secure work (Sri Lanka) and higher wages in grape supply (India). Most importantly, there are higher wages and more secure employment conditions in China. In India, earnings in the IT industry are higher than for employees of comparable qualifications in other industries.

· Women through their employment in GVC-based production have been able to challenge traditionally restrictive gender norms. Women have emerged as independent income earners. Their employment and movement across public spaces in the course of their work has challenged traditional norms. For example, it was considered immoral in some places for women to walk alone, particularly at night, but this is now changing. Case in point is garment workers in Sri Lanka and women in IT and call centers in India.

· Labor in the supplier firms, often in networked partnerships, has been active in carrying out various forms of struggle to improve working conditions. This finding comes out in studies of garment workers in Bangladesh, automobile workers in India and electronics assemblers (Foxconn) in China.


First, we are able to show how the governance structure of GVCs are linked through the knowledge requirments of the tasks outsourced to the capability and skill levels of workers and the quality of their employment. Gerry Rodgers, former Director of the International Labour Organization’s International Institute of Labour Studies in Geneva, pointed out that “this is a major contribution to knowledge of how GVCs work.”

At the same time, the struggles of workers in different segments, actions of respective governments and labor market conditions (for example, sectoral labor shortages in India’s IT industry) mean that GVCs are reformed and do not just remain static. Thus, the book also contributes to the analysis of GVCs by bringing in the role of labor in reforming GVCs.


Participation in GVCs has:

· Enabled developing countries in Asia to enter into sectors of production without having to either produce all of a product (i.e. India started by producing parts of software services, not all of them), or having to establish a brand and market its products (i.e. could any Asian country have sold the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of garments, shoes, soft toys, etc. without being supplier firms to international brands and retailers?).

· Allowed developing countries to learn advanced production methods and acquire knowledge of production processes — knowledge that could be used not just for production for the domestic market, but could also be the basis of attempts to upgrade their participation in GVCs.

· Provided employment to many tens of millions in these production segments.

· Enabled tens of millions of women to enter into employment as independent income earners and challenge traditional, restrictive gender norms.

Contributing to the positives have been open trade policies, an abundant supply of labor of varying educational levels and entrepreneurs who have been able to spot and utilize opportunities in various segments of production. At the technology level, the development of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) has made the splintering of production possible. This has been facilitated by cheap transport.

On the negative side, there are still high levels of precarious and even forced labor as migrants or child labor in various GVC segments. In addition, shares of total value earned by supplier firms in GVC production are very low, whether it is in garments or electronics.

It will be a challenge for GVC suppliers and countries not to get stuck in low-level or even middle-level traps. At an international level, it is important to set up mechanisms that can enforce internationally accepted labor standards in GVCs.


One particular case study that will stand out for readers is the Foxconn workers in China producing iPhones and their varied forms of resistance to very stressful production schedules. Also noteworthy is the garment workers in Sri Lanka and their change from being ‘disposable to empowered’; call center workers in India and their individual resistance struggles against new forms of scientific management in office work; and home-based women workers in garment production in India and their upgrading through community-buyer-government initiatives.


In overall participation in GVCs, China stands out due to its high level in comparison to the relatively low, though, increasing in India. China’s participation in GVCs has had a macroeconomic effect, helping to absorb the transfer of surplus labor from agriculture and bring about an overall labor shortage. This is still underway in India and not of the same magnitude as in China.

In relatively small economies, such as Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, the GVC-linked sectors are critical in both employment and export earnings. As would be expected, a majority of Asian participation in GVCs is at the lower end of the value chain, whether in garments, electronics or IT software.

Labour in Global Value Chains in Asia is part of the Development Trajectories in Global Value Chains published by Cambridge University Press. Three additional titles are currently scheduled as part of the series.

Tourism GVCs & Africa: Working Paper

As Africa continues to attract record numbers of international arrivals, there are industry undercurrents that influence the continent’s participation in tourism value chains. African tourism is characterized by high foreign demand, which elevates the position of global lead firms and increases leakages of tourism spending out of local economies. This paper identifies some of the variance that can be seen in different regions and countries across the continent, highlighting the policy interventions that can be implemented to increase efficiency and facilitate economic upgrading.

Global Value Chain Analysis: A Primer: 2nd Edition

In July 2016, the Duke GVC Center released the 2nd edition of “Global Value Chain Analysis: A Primer” by Gary Gereffi and Karina Fernandez-Stark. The previous version, released in May 2011, presents key GVC concepts applied by the Center in a simple and expository style. This 2nd edition refines these earlier concepts and approaches, and introduces several new illustrations drawing from recent Duke GVC Center research involving GVC analysis to inform industrial policy and the inclusion of SMEs in GVCs.

The Gender Dimensions of Global Value Chains

Policymakers are increasingly turning to GVCs as a means of driving development, including generating employment and raising incomes. Access to and benefits from participation in GVCs are closely related to gender issues. The opportunities associated with GVCs differ for men and women as a result of gender-based segregation and constraints that exist to different degrees in all societies. Not seeing these inequalities is problematic from a gender equality perspective and can hinder the broader effectiveness of trade and development policies.