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The Role of Services for Competitiveness in Manufacturing


  • Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås


  • Yunhee Kim



This study analyses the relationships between competitiveness in manufacturing and the quality of key supporting services. Three indicators of competitiveness are considered: the degree of product differentiation, unit prices obtained in export markets and the duration of trade. The density of telecoms networks and the reliability of electricity supply stand out as the most crucial for competitive manufacturing. In addition the ease at which contracts can be enforced and the time it takes to export and import goods are strongly related to competitiveness. Our methodology allows us to go beyond a one size fits all policy analysis. Interestingly, we find that in low-income countries, the impact of services quality and policy on competitiveness is highest in low-technology industries; in middle-income countries it is highest in medium-technology sectors and in high-income countries the impact is highest in medium-high and high-technology industries. This suggests that better services contribute to moving up the value chain in industries where a country already has technological capacity and comparative advantage, but better services alone may not stimulate product differentiation in sectors where a country is far from the competitive edge – at least not in the short run. Policy reforms needed are to simplify procedures for contract enforcement, liberalisation of FDI, strengthen pro-competitive regulation of network services, and eliminate tariffs. It is concluded that new ways of doing business where manufacturers build relationships with customers and compete on the basis of products they are willing to pay a premium for has the potential to become an important driving force for growth after the great recession, provided that adequate support from competitive services markets is in place.

Suggested Citation

  • Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås & Yunhee Kim, 2013. "The Role of Services for Competitiveness in Manufacturing," OECD Trade Policy Papers 148, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:traaab:148-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. D’Adamo, Gaetano & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2015. "The role of the exchange rate regime in the process of real and nominal convergence," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 21-37.
    2. Oliver Arentz & Clemens Recker & Leonhard Münstermann & Steffen J. Roth, 2015. "Der Dienstleistungssektor in Deutschland: Überblick und Deregulierungspotenziale," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 01/2015, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
    3. Alexander Cordes & Birgit Gehrke, 2015. "Industrielle Entwicklung und funktionale Verschiebung in Europa: eine empirische Analyse ausgeübter Tätigkeiten," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 84(1), pages 79-101.
    4. D'Adamo, Gaetano & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2013. "Labor Market Institutions and the Response of Inflation to Macro Shocks in the EU: A Two-Sector Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7616, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Christensen, Jesper Lindgaard, 2013. "The ability of current statistical classifications to separate services and manufacturing," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 47-60.
    6. Patricia Walter, 2017. "Anatomy of Austria’s trade in services," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 33-52.
    7. Neil Foster-McGregor & Mario Holzner & Michael Landesmann & Johannes Pöschl & Robert Stehrer & Roman Stöllinger, 2013. "A ‘Manufacturing Imperative’ in the EU – Europe's Position in Global Manufacturing and the Role of Industrial Policy," wiiw Research Reports 391, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    8. D'Adamo, Gaetano & Rovelli, Riccardo, 2015. "Labour Market Institutions and Inflation Differentials in the EU," IZA Discussion Papers 9389, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    competitiveness; contract enforcement; electricity; new industrial revolution; services liberalisation; services regulatory reform; tariffs; telecommunications; transport costs;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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