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Global supply chains: Why they emerged, why they matter, and where they are going

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  • Baldwin, Richard

Abstract

Global supply chains (GSCs) are transforming the world. This paper explores why they emerged, why they are significant and future directions they are likely to take along with some implications for policy. After putting global supply chains into an historical perspective, the paper presents an economic framework for understanding the functional and geographical unbundling of production. The fundamental trade off in supply chain fractionalisation is between specialisation gains and coordination costs. The key trade-off in supply chain dispersion is between dispersion and agglomeration forces. Supply-chain trade should be not viewed as standard trade in parts and components rather than final goods. Production sharing has linked cross-border flows of goods, investment, services, know-how and people in novel ways. The paper suggest that future of global supply chains will be influenced by: 1) improvements in coordination technology that lowers the cost of functional and geographical unbundling, 2) improvements in computer integrated manufacturing that lowers the benefits of specialisation and shifts stages toward greater skill-, capital, and technology-intensity, 3) narrowing of wage gaps that reduces the benefit of North-South offshoring to nations like China, and 4) the price of oil that raises the cost of unbundling.

Suggested Citation

  • Baldwin, Richard, 2012. "Global supply chains: Why they emerged, why they matter, and where they are going," CEPR Discussion Papers 9103, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9103
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henrik Horn & Petros C. Mavroidis & André Sapir, 2010. "Beyond the WTO? An Anatomy of EU and US Preferential Trade Agreements," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1565-1588, November.
    2. Puga, Diego & Venables, Anthony J., 1996. "The Spread of Industry: Spatial Agglomeration in Economic Development," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 440-464, December.
    3. Amador, João & Cabral, Sónia, 2009. "Vertical specialization across the world: A relative measure," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 267-280, December.
    4. Robert C. Johnson & Guillermo Noguera, 2012. "Fragmentation and Trade in Value Added over Four Decades," NBER Working Papers 18186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    6. Richard Baldwin, 2011. "Trade And Industrialisation After Globalisation's 2nd Unbundling: How Building And Joining A Supply Chain Are Different And Why It Matters," NBER Working Papers 17716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Friederike Niepmann & Gabriel J. Felbermayr, 2010. "Globalisation and the Spatial Concentration of Production," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(5), pages 680-709, May.
    8. Spitz, Alexandra, 2004. "Are Skill Requirements in the Workplace Rising? Stylized Facts and Evidence on Skill-Biased Technological Change," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-33, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Marius Brülhart, 2001. "Evolving geographical concentration of European manufacturing industries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 137(2), pages 215-243, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    global supply chains; globalisation; second unbundling;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies

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