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Abstract

This paper develops a model to study the impact of trade costs on developing countries’ industrialization when sequential production is networked in global value chains (GVCs). In a two-country setting, a decrease in trade costs of intermediates is associated with South joining and moving up the value chain and both North and South experiencing a welfare improvement. The wage gap between North and South first increases and then decreases. Extending the model to a multi-country setting, I show that reduced trade frictions lead to South countries joining GVCs due to wage differentials and low trade costs. This increases the wage in North but may decrease the wages of South countries that are already part of the network. Moreover, South countries that join tend to be regionally clustered. The model provides a first look at GVCs from the development angle, and raises policy questions regarding the governance of GVCs.

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