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Features of tertiarisation in the developed economies and worldwide offshoring


  • Maria Stella Chiaruttini



In the last decades, the world economy has been undergoing a process of production reorganisation and relocation of unprecedented scale and scope. The era of 'globalisation' has been characterised by falling barriers to trade and increasing capital flows, both of speculative and investment nature. Huge trade deficits and surpluses have emerged, which have raised a renewed interest in international trade issues as well as concern within the scientific community, as is witnessed in the literature about global imbalances. Since the Nineties, few rich countries (United States, Great Britain, France, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands) have been securing a substantial stake in worldwide production through FDI, a phenomenon mirrored by increasing FDI negative positions for nations such as China, Mexico, Brazil and Ireland. The building up of this dualistic international structure can be detected also analysing the dynamics of net exports of royalties and license fees. This fact might suggest a new perspective from which to study the rise of the 'tertiary economy', which could then be considered as 'post-industrial' having offshored manufacturing production, while paying for the imports of goods with the profit stream accruing from FDI, the sale of property rights and the exports of other sophisticated services. This interpretation, however, would explain the recent development path of only a subset of FDI net exporter countries, namely the US, Great Britain, France and, partially, Japan, whereas Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands are running a growing merchandise trade surplus. This heterogeneity calls for further investigation. The paper therefore, combining information from trade flows and net asset positions worldwide and their evolution since the Seventies-Eighties, proposes a tentative classification of countries based on their relative strength in manufacturing and several services categories so as to identify, among them, a core and a periphery in the chain of worldwide production. To do that several indicators are considered, such as each country's comparative advantages, its dependence on net exports and its market share in the world economy by relevant trade category. The picture resulting is that of a growing specialisation among advanced as well as emerging economies. Paradigmatic examples of this heterogeneity are the United States, increasingly involved in financial activities, vis-Ã -vis the export-driven Germany, or the industrial producer China and the offshoring of services towards India.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Stella Chiaruttini, 2013. "Features of tertiarisation in the developed economies and worldwide offshoring," ERSA conference papers ersa13p399, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p399

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Rowthorn & Ken Coutts, 2004. "De-industrialisation and the balance of payments in advanced economies," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(5), pages 767-790, September.
    2. Stephen H. Haber & Aldo Musacchio, 2013. "These Are the Good Old Days: Foreign Entry and the Mexican Banking System," NBER Working Papers 18713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ashoka Mody, 2004. "Is FDI Integrating the World Economy?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(8), pages 1195-1222, August.
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    More about this item


    offshoring; international trade; global imbalances; tertiarisation; structural change;

    JEL classification:

    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology


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