Felix Friedt, 17 January 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused one of the most severe contractions in international trade since the Great Trade Collapse, leading to comparisons between the two episodes. While the Great Trade Collapse has been clearly linked to the collapse in international demand, this column argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to impact trade through multiple transmission channels, highlighting the role of global value chains in the transmission. Commercial policy responses to bolster the global economy must, therefore, deviate from demand-centred instruments and consider the dependence on and resilience of global value chains to address the triple pandemic effect.

Adnan Seric, Holger Görg, Wan-Hsin Liu, Michael Windisch, 07 January 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the global trade network underpinning global value chains. Initial disruptions in the supply chains for key medical goods due to surges in demand and newly erected trade barriers have prompted policymakers around the world to question their country’s reliance on foreign suppliers and international production networks. This column takes a closer look at China’s post-pandemic recovery and argues that its response may hold clues to the future of global value chains.

Anirudh Shingal, Prachi Agarwal, 08 December 2020

International health crises have the ability to send shockwaves through global value chains. This column examines how value chains have responded to two previous health shocks – SARS and MERS – in order to draw lessons for the current pandemic. There is evidence of geographical diversification within value chains, as well as of an overall non-resilience to the SARS epidemic in particular. The effects are driven by lower-middle-income importers that were more integrated in global value chains, received more investment, were more competitive, and were more reliant on the severely affected partners. Similar disruptions are likely to follow Covid-19.

Michal Gradzewicz, Jakub Mućk, 17 September 2020

There has been a lively debate concerning the dynamics of markups. This column contributes to this debate by studying the relationship between globalisation and monopolistic markups in Poland. It highlights important non-linearities leading to an uneven  distribution of the effects of global value chains for participating firms, with lowest benefits found for firms in the middle of the production chain where goods are highly standardised and substitutable. It also documents a fall in markups for Poland which can be explained by rising dependence on imported intermediates in export-oriented production and fiercer competition of domestic firms on export markets.

Kyle Handley, Fariha Kamal, Ryan Monarch, 01 September 2020

The rise of global supply chains means that many firms that import are also exporters. This column uses confidential firm-trade linked transaction data to identify the firms facing new US import tariffs in the period 2018-2019. It shows that product exports with higher firm-level exposure to new import tariffs had weaker export growth after 2018 than less exposed products. This impact on export growth is equivalent to an ad valorem tariff on US exports of 2-4% for the average product.

James Zhan, Richard Bolwijn, Bruno Casella, Amelia U. Santos-Paulino, 13 August 2020

Global value chains will undergo a drastic transformation in the decade ahead. The change will be driven by a push for greater supply chain resilience due to COVID-19, which adds to existing pressures from the technology revolution, growing economic nationalism, and the sustainability imperative. Based on UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2020, this column argues that the global trade and investment landscape will be reshaped by the restructuring of global chains, build-up of new regional chains, and distributed manufacturing. While these will present daunting challenges, they will also offer ample opportunities for firms and states alike and will lead to a GVC-development paradigm shift.

Mai Dao, Mitali Das, Zsoka Koczan, 20 July 2020

The declining labour share of income is a global phenomenon that has affected primarily low-skilled and middle-skilled workers. This column examines the effects of trade and technology on the labour shares of different skill groups using a new dataset covering both advanced and developing economies. Both trade and technology have contributed to the declining labour share of middle-skilled workers but have had little effect on low-skilled and high-skilled labour. Policies should be designed with the goal of spreading the benefits of globalisation to the entire labour force.

Jean Imbs, Laurent Pauwels, 26 June 2020

Exposure to foreign shocks is often thought to be highly dependent on foreign trade and measures of openness usually build exclusively on measures of direct trade. This column argues that in a world of global value chains, focusing on direct trade gives a distorted view of the exposure to foreign shocks. It proposes a new measure of openness which computes the fraction of gross output sold to downstream customers located abroad. This measure finds most sectors to be more open and this increased openness is estimated to cause rises in productivity and contagion, without observable effects on growth.

Sébastien Miroudot, 18 June 2020

Some governments assert that global value chains create economic vulnerabilities in times of a pandemic. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, examines recent experiences and the risk-management literature. It concludes that it is a mistake to equate self-sufficiency with robustness – putting all the eggs in one basket is still not a good idea.  It is also a mistake to focus on production location when the imperative is to radically scale up production of vital medical supplies. Importantly, international supply chains will be needed to produce the billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine we will soon need to manufacture and distribute. 

Penny Bamber, Karina Fernandez-Stark, Daria Taglioni, 27 May 2020

Anna Stellinger, Henrik Isakson, Ingrid Berglund, 01 May 2020

The world is in the midst of a dual crisis, threatening both the health of millions of people and the world economy. The crisis also touches upon various aspects of trade policy. Once the immediate crisis has abated it is not unlikely that the major trade debate will be about reshoring production. The argument goes that it is dangerous – both from an economic point of view and from a public health perspective – to be so dependent on imports. This column argues that the opposite is in fact true.

Adnan Seric, Deborah Winkler, 28 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of global value chains. In response to supply chain risks, global lead firms have relied on Industry 4.0 technologies as well as reshoring parts of production. This column explores the potential impacts of these developments on the breadth and depth of global value chains. Automation and reshoring allow for more flexible adjustment to changing demand and the mitigation of supply-side risks. Ultimately, the implications of automation on development will depend on both the types of foreign inputs sourced as well as the relationship between robots and labour.

Keiko Ito, Kenta Ikeuchi, Chiara Criscuolo, Jonathan Timmis, Antonin Bergeaud, 23 April 2020

Interconnectedness and relative position in global production networks is an important factor for modern economies. In recent years, Japanese firms have lost their relative influence within the regional value chain. This column analyses the relationship between measures of network centrality and firm innovation output. It finds that having access to a greater breadth of customers is positively related to innovative activities, measured by patent applications. The results suggest an important role of knowledge spillovers from foreign markets.

Chad Bown, Aksel Erbahar, Maurizio Zanardi, 23 March 2020

The decades preceding the Trump era saw a significant decline in trade barriers and a concurrent rise in global value chains. Evidence on the direction of causality between the two is still lacking. Using an exogenously timed WTO requirement for countries to re-evaluate previously imposed tariffs, this column argues that increased activity through global value chains had an important role to play in the countries’ choice to reduce trade protection during this period. 

Peter Egger, Jiaqing Zhu, 09 January 2020

The US and China have been exchanging threats and imposing tariffs in a ‘trade war’ since early 2018. Sound statistical and holistic economic analysis of the trade dispute’s consequences is difficult due to data limitations. This column scrutinises global stock market responses to assess the effects of the trade war and finds that, on average, the US and Chinese tariffs have directly hurt targeted firms/sectors abroad as intended, but they have also hurt firms at home. It also reveals unintended effects on third parties, mediated by global value chain interdependencies.

Cecilia Bellora, Lionel Fontagné, 22 April 2019

Since 2018, the US administration has implemented several measures limiting free trade with China and other countries. Using cross-country data and a general equilibrium model, this column argues that a trade war hurts not only the targeted countries but also the country imposing the tariffs. Global value chains prompt countries to decrease tariffs when the domestic content of foreign-produced final goods and the imported content of domestic production of final goods are high. Once imposed, tariffs have an indirect effect on third sectors and countries through global value chains.

Susan Lund, Jacques Bughin, 10 April 2019

The history of trade reflects the ongoing march of technological innovation. This column argues that despite today’s increased trade tensions, rising nationalism, and slowdown in global goods trade, globalisation is not in retreat. Instead, it is entering a new chapter that is being driven by flows of information and data, as well as technological changes that are reshaping industry value chains.

Rita Cappariello, Michele Mancini, Filippo Vergara Caffarelli, 22 March 2019

EU and the UK production networks are highly integrated, and Brexit poses a threat to supply and demand linkages between the two economies. This column describes how the effect of tariffs will be magnified due to back-and-forth trade across the Channel. This will increase production costs in the UK and, to a lesser extent, in the EU.

Bernhard Michel, Caroline Hambÿe, Bart Hertveldt, 21 January 2019

Domestic value creation is shaped by how and to what extent economies integrate into global value chains. This column argues that further insights can be gained by distinguishing export-oriented and domestic market firms in standard indicators of global value chain integration and participation. Using data for Belgium, it documents that export-oriented firms differ from domestic market firms in terms of input structure and import patterns. These two types of firms play different roles in determining the nature of a country’s global value chain participation.

Chad Bown, 30 October 2018

President Trump’s protectionism has a distinctive focus on disrupting US access to global supply chains. This column reveals that the major economies had in fact begun to impose additional trade protection on intermediate inputs even prior to 2016. New barriers targeting cross-border supply chains simply arose through policies aside from headline tariffs. Some of this new protection has also already spread beyond China’s trade and begun to cover exports from other countries. These results, combined with more recent policy actions, widen the possibility of a negative protectionist impact on the global sourcing of parts and components.

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