Local supplier firms in Madagascar’s apparel export industry: Upgrading paths, transnational social relations and regional production networks
Energy, Sub-saharan Africa, Trade and FDI
This article asks whether and how local firms in low-income countries can participate, upgrade and capture value in apparel global value chains in the context of increased entry barriers and asymmetric power relations. It focuses on Madagascar, which is the top apparel exporter in Sub-Saharan Africa and one where there is a significant number of local firms. The article examines the capability-building processes of local firms, which are the basis for upgrading paths and broader sector development. We do this by combining conceptual insights from the Technological Capabilities literature with the conjunctural approach to Global Value Chains and Global Production Networks. Based on extensive fieldwork in Madagascar’s apparel export sector, the article explains how the relational, local and regional assets that local firms can leverage in building technological capabilities influence their choices with regards to export strategies and their upgrading paths. In turn, these assets are linked to different types of local ownership, and they emerge through historical legacies and the national socio-economic context, which give rise to specific transnational social relations, as well as through regional economic formations and global value chain dynamics.