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Tilman Altenburg

German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Tilman Altenburg leads the research programme “Transformation of Economic and Social Systems” at German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). He received his doctorate in Economic Geography in 1991. Tilman has done empirical research on economic development in Latin America, Asia and Africa, with a focus on competitiveness, industrial and innovation policy, and value chains. His main theme is how developing countries can design economic policies that enable them to improve their position in the global economy in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Currently, he is coordinating research projects on green industrial policy in developing countries and on structural change in Africa.
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Automation versus relocation in clothing global value chains: Will investments shift from China to Africa at a big scale?
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Launch Event: How Supply Chain Research Can Help Solving Societal Challenges
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New Podcast “Shaping sustainable supply chains"
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Latecomer development in a “greening” world: Introduction to the Special Issue
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Exporting out of China or out of Africa? Automation versus relocation in the global clothing industry

This Discussion Paper examines the opportunities that the rising industrial wages in China will bring for Africa. China has been the industrial workbench of the global economy for decades. However, its competitive advantages are waning, particularly for labour-intensive assembly activities in the clothing, shoe, electronics and toy industries. The Chinese government estimates that up to 81 million low-cost industrial jobs are at risk of relocation to other countries - unless China can keep the companies in the country through automation. Against this background, three complementary studies were carried out. The first examines where the automation technology for clothing and footwear production stands today; the second, how clothing companies in China deal with the cost pressure: to what extent they automate, relocate within China or abroad and how great is the interest in Africa as a production location. The third part is devoted to Africa's competitiveness in clothing assemly, with empirical findings from Ethiopia and Madagascar. The Discussion Paper shows that the manufacture of clothing can already be robotized today, but that for sewing, robotization will probably remain more expensive than manual labor in the next 15-20 years. China's companies are investing heavily in the automation of all other production processes and at the same time shifting production to neighbouring Asian countries. In Africa, only Ethiopia is currently competitive in the manufacture of clothing, and here too there are significant institutional difficulties in absorbing large amounts of direct investment.

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Soziale und ökologische Herausforderungen der globalen Textilwirtschaft: Lösungsbeiträge der deutschen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit

Bekleidung für den rasch wachsenden Weltmarkt wird fast ausschließlich in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern gefertigt. Die Produktionsbedingungen in diesen Ländern gehen mit erheblichen sozialen und ökologischen Problemen einher. Diese in den Griff zu bekommen, ist eines der wesentlichen Ziele der deutschen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. Dabei werden Maßnahmen in den Produktionsländern verknüpft mit Anstrengungen, unternehmerische Verantwortung entlang der gesamten Textil-Lieferkette einzufordern und hohe und transparente Standards durch den "Grünen Knopf" zu zertifizieren. Die vorliegende Studie identifiziert die wichtigsten sozialen und ökologischen Herausforderungen in der Textil-Lieferkette. Sie betont drei Hauptproblemfelder: Arbeitsbedingungen in der Konfektion; Umweltprobleme in den vorgeschalteten Nassprozessen; und soziale und ökologischen Probleme in der Baumwollerzeugung. Des Weiteren werden (neue) Handlungsfelder für Deutschlands internationale Zusammenarbeit in vier Bereichen beschrieben: (1) den Konsum nachhaltiger gestalten; (2) unternehmerische Sorgfaltspflicht einfordern; (3) die lokale Wertschöpfung in der Produktion steigern; und (4) Institutionen vor Ort stärken

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Green industrial policy: Accelerating structural change towards wealthy green economies

The Chapter discusses the conceptual foundations of green industrial policy. Altenburg and Rodrik explain why looking through the lens of industrial policy provides important insights for a green transformation. They summarize lessons learned from decades of experimentation with, and research on, industrial policy and bring out key principles of smart policymaking that maximize the government’s ability to overcome market failures while keeping the inherent risks of misallocation and political capture to a minimum. Subsequently, the authors identify six extra challenges of green transformations and explain the ways green industrial policy must go beyond the common practice of industrial policy in a business-as-usual setting.

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