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Trade and the structure of South African production, 1984-97


  • Lawrence Edwards


With the onset of trade liberalisation, fears have been raised concerning the impact of trade on manufacturing output, employment and growth. Using an input-output methodology, this article decomposes South African output growth between 1984 and 1997 into final demand expansion, trade flows and technology. There are two main findings. First, trade liberalisation has not deindustrialised the manufacturing sector. Although import penetration has risen, export growth has matched and exceeded the potential import-induced losses in domestic production. South Africa's response thus conforms closely to international evidence. Secondly, a combination of strong growth in capital-intensive exports and import penetration in ultra-labour-intensive sectors has aided the structural shift in production towards capital-intensive sectors. However, capital-biased supply-side policies, as well as endemic problems within ultra-labour-intensive sectors, suggest that domestic factors and not trade liberalisation lie behind this shift.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence Edwards, 2001. "Trade and the structure of South African production, 1984-97," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 471-491.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:18:y:2001:i:4:p:471-491
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350120083905

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    Cited by:

    1. Edwards, Lawrence & Golub, Stephen S., 2004. "South Africa's International Cost Competitiveness and Exports in Manufacturing," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1323-1339, August.

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