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Global value chains in Asia: Is everyone benefiting?

Time (GMT +01) 13:00 15:00
Hero image description: Garment factory in Cambodia Image credit:Jodie Keane Image license:Creative Commons


Dr Dirk Willem te Velde - Head of the International Economic Development Group of ODI


Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja - Director of Research, Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo

Dr Yurendra Basnett - Research Fellow, ODI

Jodie Keane - Research Fellow, ODI

Mr Frans Lammersen - Principal Administrator, Development Co-operation Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Global value chains (GVCs) have been key to East Asia’s rapid industrialisation over recent decades – but this has not been the case for other developing regions. This event asked what lessons we can learn from East Asia’s experience, and how GVCs can foster inclusive growth across the developing world. 

Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja, Director of Research at the Asian Development Bank Institute, noted that some firms and some countries gain – but not all. He argued that opening up markets isn’t enough; industrial policy and social security nets are vital for dealing with adjustment issues.

Jodie Keane, ODI’s resident expert on value chains, discussed how chains are governed. Drawing on the example of textile production in Cambodia, she described how one firm may take the lead for the entire chain, setting the rules and norms for participation. 

ODI’s Dr Yurendra Basnett, who has worked on Nepal’s economic transformation and industrial policy, questioned the importance of global value chains and argued that poor countries should focus on getting the basics right: improving infrastructure; investment policies; and labour skills. These remain key whether a country participates in GVCs or not. He also noted the importance of networking with firms leading these GVCs.

Frans Lammersen, Principal Administrator of OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate, examined the results of an OECD/WTO questionnaire, which revealed that governments are taking GVCs much more seriously than previously.


East Asia's global rise offers fascinating lessons for other developing countries. The spread of global value chains (GVCs) over geographical space underpin East Asia's rapid industrialization, creation of jobs and unprecedented prosperity over decades. However, there has been little sign of the transmission of GVCs to other developing regions.    
With the slowing down of world growth since the 2008 global financial crisis, various issues about the role of GVCs in economic development have emerged. These include: can GVCs sustain East Asia's future growth, can GVCs foster inclusive growth in the rest of the developing world, what policies are required to promote GVCs and inclusive growth in developing countries, and what is the role for foreign aid in promoting GVCs and inclusive growth. The seminar will discuss critical issues for inclusive growth in Asia and the rest of the developing world.

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