Chapter 4: The Technological Structure and Performance of Developing Country Manufactured Exports, 1985–98
4. The technological structure and performance of developing country manufactured exports, 1985–98* 4.1 INTRODUCTION Export performance by developing countries is highly diverse. Its patterns differ signiﬁcantly by country and region; over time, moreover, they are changing at different rates and in different directions. A few countries are ‘succeeding’: they are rapidly expanding export earnings and raising their ‘quality’ (shifting export structures from low-technology, low-skill, and largely labour-intensive products to high-technology and high-skill products). By contrast, many countries are stagnating in terms of both export earnings and quality. In the middle are countries with reasonable rates of quantity growth but relatively weak improvements in quality. The process of globalization is reducing rather than raising the ability of developing countries to integrate successfully with the world economy. While such divergences in export performance are well recognized, its dimensions and forms are perhaps less well known. The importance of understanding the nature, implications and determinants of developing world export patterns cannot be over-stressed. In a liberalizing world, export success is more important than ever to economic performance. It remains directly relevant, as the main means of earning foreign exchange (except for the few countries that have large international service sectors), reaping economies of scale and specialization and accessing new technology. It is also of great indirect signiﬁcance. It is an indicator of the efﬁciency of the industrial sector, facing more direct (because of liberalization) and intense (because of falling transport costs and the new ‘rules of the game’) competition...
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