Marcel P Timmer, Sébastien Miroudot, Gaaitzen J de Vries · 2018
Journal of Economic Geography · Oxford University Press (OUP)

Functional specialisation in trade

Production processes are fragmenting across borders with countries trading tasks rather than products. Export statistics based on value added reveal a process of vertical specialisation. Yet, what do countries do when exporting? In this article, we provide novel evidence on functional specialisation (FS) in trade. We find surprisingly large and pervasive heterogeneity in specialisation across countries. A positive (negative) correlation between GDP per capita and specialisation in R&D (fabrication) functions is documented. Specialisation in management and marketing functions is unrelated to income. We show how our approach can be easily extended to study FS in trade at the sub-national level. We argue that this is needed to better understand the potential for regional development under global integration.

Full publication is available on: DOI 10.1093/jeg/lby056

Contributors from our Network

Marcel Timmer

Marcel Timmer
University of Groningen

Marcel Timmer is Deputy-Director of the CPB Netherlands Bureau for of Economic Policy Analysis and professor of economic growth and development at the Groningen Growth and Development Centre at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He has recently led the research program ‘Modelling Global Value Chains: a new framework to study trade, jobs and income inequality in an interdependent world’, which built on his contributions through the World Input-Output Database project (www.wiod.org). He holds a PhD from the Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.

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Sébastien Miroudot

Sébastien Miroudot
OECD

Sébastien Miroudot is Senior Trade Policy Analyst at the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, and holds a PhD in International Economics from SciencesPo Paris. Before joining the OECD, he worked for several years at Groupe d’ Economie Mondiale. His research interests include global value chains, the relationship between trade and investment and the role of multinational enterprises and services in international trade and global value chains.

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Gaaitzen de Vries

Gaaitzen de Vries
University of Groningen

Gaaitzen de Vries is associate professor at the Groningen Growth and Development Centre at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, professor of global value chains at the University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China, and UNU-WIDER non-residential senior research fellow. He has been part of the World Input-Output Database project (www.wiod.org), and has recently investigated the functional specialization of developing countries in global value chains. He holds a PhD from the University of Groningen.

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