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Product Fragmentation and Trade Patterns in East Asia

  • Prema-chandra Athukorala

    (Division of Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia)

International product fragmentation-the cross-border dispersion of component production/assembly within vertically integrated production processes-is an important feature of the deepening structural interdependence of the world economy. This paper examines the implications of this phenomenon for global and regional trade patterns, with special emphasis on countries in East Asia, using a new data set culled from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database. It is found that, while "fragmentation trade" has generally grown faster than total world trade in manufacturing, the degree of dependence of East Asia on this new form of international specialization is proportionately larger than that of North America and Europe. The upshot is that international product fragmentation has made East Asian growth increasingly reliant on extra-regional trade, strengthening the case for a global, rather than a regional, approach to trade and investment policymaking. Copyright (c) 2006 The Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Asian Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 4 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
Pages: 1-27

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:asiaec:v:4:y:2005:i:3:p:1-27
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