Global Value Chains and World Trade

Prospects and Challenges for Latin America

image of Global Value Chains and World Trade

The analysis of how Latin American and Caribbean economies participate in different segments of GVCs is at the heart of the current work agenda of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which focuses on how structural change and productivity gains can promote economic development with equality. This volume builds on the relevant literature and suggests that the movement of firms to higher value added activities in GVCs requires them to step up their innovation efforts and develop new products and processes. Success in improving market shares and value added will depend, however, on which firms innovate most. Hence, innovation is a necessary but insufficient for increasing value added and market shares. Evidence suggests that since the 2008 economic crisis, the participation of Latin America and the Caribbean in global production networks has increased.



Mapping global value chains

World trade and production are increasingly structured around what are known as “global value chains” (GVCs). A value chain can be defined simply as the “full range of activities that firms and workers do to bring a product from its conception to its end use and beyond” (Gereffi and Fernandez-Stark, 2011). Typically, a value chain includes the following activities: design, production, marketing, distribution and support to the final consumer. These activities can be performed within the same firm or divided among different firms. The fact that they are increasingly spread over several countries explains why the value chain is regarded as “global”.


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