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South Africa's export predicament

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  • Ricardo Hausmann
  • Bailey Klinger

Abstract

Using South Africa as an example, this article explores how the structure of production affects export diversification and economic growth. We show that the lagging process of structural transformation is part of the explanation for stagnant exports per capita in South Africa over the past 40 years. This slow structural transformation is shown to be a consequence in part of the peripheral nature of South Africa's productive capabilities: the country is specialized in sectors intensive in highly specific factors of production that cannot be easily redeployed to other activities. Using this methodology, we examine the sectoral priorities of the South African Department of Trade and Industry and explore the policy implications of the country's orientation in the product space.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo Hausmann & Bailey Klinger, 2008. "South Africa's export predicament," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 609-637, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:16:y:2008:i:4:p:609-637
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0351.2008.00337.x
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    1. C. A. Hidalgo & B. Klinger & A. -L. Barabasi & R. Hausmann, 2007. "The Product Space Conditions the Development of Nations," Papers 0708.2090, arXiv.org.
    2. Ricardo Hausmann & Bailey Klinger, 2006. "Structural Transformation and Patterns of Comparative Advantage in the Product Space," CID Working Papers 128, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
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    7. Ricardo Hausmann & Jason Hwang & Dani Rodrik, 2007. "What you export matters," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
    8. Ricardo Hausmann & Bailey Klinger, 2007. "The Structure of the Product Space and the Evolution of Comparative Advantage," CID Working Papers 146, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    9. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandra Poncet & Felipe Starosta de Waldemar, 2015. "Product Relatedness and Firm Exports in China," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(3), pages 579-605.
    2. Francis Lwesya, 2018. "Export Diversification and Poverty Reduction in Tanzania," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 21(68), pages 93-110, June.
    3. Rattsø, Jørn & Stokke, Hildegunn E., 2012. "Trade policy in a growth model with technology gap dynamics and simulations for South Africa," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1042-1056.
    4. Hausmann, Ricardo & Chauvin, Jasmina, 2015. "Moving to the Adjacent Possible: Discovering Paths for Export Diversification in Rwanda," Working Paper Series rwp15-022, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Ricardo Hausmann & Bailey Klinger, 2009. "Erratum," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 17(1), pages 211-212, January.
    6. Shan Li & Xun Li & Wei Lang & Haohui Chen & Xiaoguang Huang, 2021. "The Spatial and Mechanism Difference in the Export Evolution of Product Space in Global Countries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(4), pages 1-17, February.
    7. Berhanu Abegaz, 2008. "The Speed Of Structural Convergence In The Manufacturing Industries Of Newly Industrialising Economies," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(s2), pages 89-109, August.
    8. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2007. "A Growth Model For South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(4), pages 616-630, December.
    9. Berhanu Abegaz, 2007. "The Speed of Structural Convergence in the Manufacturing Industries of Newly Industrializing Economies," Working Papers 67, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    10. Iyoboyi, Martins, 2019. "Macroeconomic Analysis of Export Diversification in Nigeria," Empirical Economic Review, Department of Economics and Statistics, Dr Hassan Murad School of Management, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, vol. 2(1), pages 83-116.
    11. Andrews, Matthew, 2008. "Is Black Economic Empowerment a South African Growth Catalyst? (Or Could It Be...)," Working Paper Series rwp08-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Matt Andrews, 2008. "Is Black Economic Empowerment a South African Growth Catalyst? (Or Could it Be...)," CID Working Papers 170, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    13. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2009. "Trade barriers to growth in South Africa: Endogenous investment-productivity-trade interaction," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_010, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    14. Wouter G. Bam & Karolien Bruyne & Mare Laing, 2021. "The IO–PS in the context of GVC-related policymaking: The case of the South African automotive industry," Journal of International Business Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 4(3), pages 410-432, September.
    15. Hilsenrath, Peter & Pogue, Thomas, 2017. "Distributed dynamic capabilities in South Africa's mineral resource-finance network," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 57-67.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • F19 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Other
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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