The contemporary phase of internationalization is subordinated to the development of the innovative economy and the dispersion of the value added chains. The international production, trade and investments are nowadays organized in the framework of global value chains (GVC) where various stages of production are located in different countries. It should be noted, however, that a mere fact of the increased participation in GVC does not guarantee a long-term increase in benefits. It is important to achieve a comparative advantage in certain industries which are nowadays determined by the degree of technological advancement of the given country and industry. This paper aims to provide an assessment of how the widespread adoption of new digital technologies might affect the location and organization of activities within global value chains in many industries. With regard to the sectoral context, despite the heterogeneity of many GVCs (as in the case of the buyer- and producer-driven chain taxonomy), there are two dominant types of GVCs. On the one hand, there are the vertically specialized GVCs which are characterized by a “thinning” trajectory. On the other hand, there are additives GVCs, where sustainable income growth is characterized by a process of “thickening”. Whilst some industrial policies are relevant across the spectrum of sectors (including those not integrated in GVCs), and some to all GVCs, each of these two families of GVCs has specific needs and, correspondingly, specific policy requirements. Moreover, central to the concept of functional upgrading in GVCs is the transition between manufacturing, farming and mining activities to design, branding, marketing and logistics links within a chain. Hence, it clearly makes much more sense to refer to these policy issues as productive sector policies rather than industrial policies. Therefore, the focus of policy should be shifting from traditional industrial policy and sectors (manufacturing, agriculture or services) to productive capabilities policy, and then to the spread of these capabilities to other value chains.
global value chains, industry 4.0, industrial policy, upgrading
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