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E-commerce and developing country-SME participation in global value chains

Author

Listed:
  • Lanz, Rainer
  • Lundquist, Kathryn
  • Mansio, Grégoire
  • Maurer, Andreas
  • Teh, Robert

Abstract

Two far-reaching developments have increased the trade opportunities for SMEs in developing countries. Firstly, the rise of the internet and advances in ICT have reduced trade-related information and communication costs. Secondly, the international fragmentation of production has increased the opportunities for SMEs to specialize in narrow activities at various stages along the production chain. Using firm-level data from the World Bank's Enterprise Survey, we test whether digital connectivity, as captured by whether a firm has a website or not, facilitates the participation of manufacturing SMEs from developing countries in global value chains (GVCs). We find robust evidence that digital connectivity facilitates the participation of manufacturing SMEs in GVCs in terms of both backward and forward linkages. SMEs with a website tend to import a higher share of their inputs used for production and export a higher share of their sales as compared to SMEs without a website. Furthermore, the findings indicate that the effect of having a website on GVC participation is stronger for SMEs than for large firms. Beyond digital connectivity at the firm level, we also assess the role of a country's ICT infrastructure in facilitating GVC participation of SMEs. We find that SMEs tend to participate more in GVCs in countries where a higher share of the population has fixed broadband subscriptions. This result also holds if we control for other country-level factors such as the quality of logistics services, rule of law and access to finance. Our findings can provide guidance for policy makers in developing countries about the importance of investing in ICT infrastructure, creating a regulatory and policy environment conducive to e-commerce, and providing SMEs and workers with the digital skills and knowledge to use ICT technologies efficiently.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanz, Rainer & Lundquist, Kathryn & Mansio, Grégoire & Maurer, Andreas & Teh, Robert, 2018. "E-commerce and developing country-SME participation in global value chains," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2018-13, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wtowps:ersd201813
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Freund, Caroline L. & Weinhold, Diana, 2004. "The effect of the Internet on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 171-189, January.
    2. Paunov, Caroline & Rollo, Valentina, 2016. "Has the Internet Fostered Inclusive Innovation in the Developing World?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 587-609.
    3. Ali Hortaçsu & F. Asís Martínez-Jerez & Jason Douglas, 2009. "The Geography of Trade in Online Transactions: Evidence from eBay and MercadoLibre," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 53-74, February.
    4. Andreas Lendle & Marcelo Olarreaga & Simon Schropp & Pierre‐Louis Vézina, 2016. "There Goes Gravity: eBay and the Death of Distance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(591), pages 406-441, March.
    5. Ahn, JaeBin & Khandelwal, Amit K. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2011. "The role of intermediaries in facilitating trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-85, May.
    6. George R. G. Clarke & Scott J. Wallsten, 2006. "Has the Internet Increased Trade? Developed and Developing Country Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(3), pages 465-484, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    e-commerce; developing countries; small and medium-sized enterprises; global value chains;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F63 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Economic Development

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