November 28, 2021


Only The Finest Women

Structural transformation in the era of global agricultural value chains

Nowadays, the foodstuff we try to eat is increasingly sent by world-wide output systems that cross many borders. Wheat harvested in Argentina and Ukraine, for instance, is processed into flour in Kazakhstan and Turkey, and then exported to make pasta in Italy and instantaneous noodles in China in get to feed individuals throughout the entire world. Trade in agriculture and foodstuff has more than doubled in real phrases given that the early 1990s. Emerging and creating nations around the world have become active individuals in world markets, and they now account for about just one-3rd of world wide agricultural trade. Technological progress have built it probable to completely transform production and trade processes, which have in flip enabled the emergence of world-wide price chains in agriculture and meals.

Participation in agri-food items worldwide worth chains (AGVCs) has been at the centre of much modern growth policy discussion in lower-revenue international locations, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the place the agriculture sector is the main supply of livelihoods, accounting for more than 15% of GDP (Globe Bank 2019, Zimmermann et al. 2020, Zhan et al. 2020,  Antimiani and Cernat 2021, Pasquali et al. 2021). But several experiments have explored how participation in AGVCs influences the national financial outcomes of contemporary agrarian economies. This column summarises my 2021 investigation of how globalised agri-food items price chains have an impact on structural transformation (Lim 2021).

The geography of agri-meals world-wide worth chains

AGVCs have developed promptly considering that the mid-1900s. From the 1950s to the 1980s, agricultural industries ended up in a period of time of pre-globalisation, shifting from standard, smaller-scale, and casual to greater-scale and more formal. Due to the fact the early 1990s, when trade liberalisation expanded with China’s emergence as a major participant in world trade, nations have modernised their agricultural GVCs (Reardon et al. 2009). Via fast vertical integration, top world wide grocery processors and merchants have emerged as dominant players in AGVCs by linking farmers upstream with clients downstream (Sexton 2013).

Utilizing the EORA Multi-Area Enter-Output Tables (MRIOs) for 155 international locations in the time period 1991−2015 (created by the UNCTAD-Eora Global Worth Chain Database in Borin and Mancini 2019), I come across main stylised facts about AGVCs. Across nations around the world, the mean complete AGVC participation was 31.7%, with agricultural GVC participation (33.2%) somewhat bigger than foods GVC participation (30.9%). Total AGVC participation is practically similarly dispersed downstream (15.67%) and upstream (16.09%). Nevertheless, AGVC participation in agriculture and meals industries is not as similarly distributed. In agriculture, upstream participation (22.29%) is around two times as good as downstream participation (10.91%) in the foodstuff marketplace, downstream participation (19.28%) is 1.6 occasions greater than upstream participation (11.62%). In other phrases, GVCs in food and drinks most likely have a larger share of backward linkages in output and reasonably much less ahead linkages since the foods and beverage market entails a increased degree of foreign worth-extra – which includes processing, distributing, and labelling. The unique patterns of normal GVC participation in the agriculture and food stuff industries are sturdy throughout yrs in the time period 1991−2015.

I also look at the sample of AGVC participation by revenue amount. Very first, superior-revenue countries’ full AGVC participation (37.12%) is about 20% better than that of decreased-income countries. Also, as countries’ incomes increase, their downstream participation improves and upstream participation decreases. Lastly, relatively small-earnings countries participate far more in the upstream agriculture sector than relatively high-income countries, whilst in the downstream foodstuff market the reverse is correct.

Determine 1 Agri-foods GVC participation throughout nations around the world in 2015

Notes: GVC participation rates in 2015. Panels (a) and (b) exhibit GVC participation fee throughout nations around the world in the agriculture sector and the foodstuff and drinks sector, respectively

Figure 1 reveals the world map of AGVC participation in the 12 months 2015. European nations and sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries show a comparatively high level of GVC participation in both of those the agriculture and foods industries. Also, European countries are more associated in downstream participation (backward linkages), while African countries are much more included in upstream participation (forward linkages) (see Determine 2). This AGVC participation sample is possible to be pushed by escalating demand from customers from Europe for uncooked commodities generated in SSA in purchase to deliver additional processed food in Europe (Balié et al. 2019).

Determine 2 Agricultural GVC participation by area, 1991–2015

Notes: For personal locations, I use the UN Conventional Nation Codes for Statistical Use (Sequence M, No. 49), a normal for space codes utilized by the United Nations for statistical applications. Africa (Northern African, sub-Saharan Africa) Americas (Northern The united states, Latin The united states and the Caribbean) Asia (Eastern Asia, Southern Asia, South-japanese Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia) Europe (Southern Europe, Japanese Europe together with Northern Asia, Western Europe). Oceania (four international locations) is excluded from the examination.

How agri-foodstuff GVCs can transform agrarian economies 

Considering the fact that Kuznets and Murphy (1966) wrote about structural transformation – wherein a place reorients its economic things to do from the agricultural sector toward the production and providers sectors – their argument has been given a lot of notice in coverage debates bordering financial development in the two developed and creating nations around the world. Although the rise of GVCs has modified modern agricultural generation programs, whether or not and how the rise of AGVCs has impacted the economic framework of participating international locations is even now not settled (Barrett et al. 2019). 1 situation is that nations around the world allocate a lot more financial resources to the agricultural sector from the non-agricultural sector due to the fact much more AGVC participation may well maximize agrarian export volume by adding benefit in supply chains. A second scenario is that nations around the world reallocate financial sources from the agricultural sector to non-agricultural sectors these types of as producing or expert services. This scenario is usually supported by the look at that some countries outsource agricultural production from other nations around the world and focus much more on meals processing and labelling in downstream worth chains. Employing details on 155 nations about the time period 1991−2015, I glimpse especially at no matter if participation in AGVCs modifications the GDP and employment shares of the agricultural, producing, and solutions sectors.

Very first, I discover that nations taking part in AGVCs are likely to turn into a lot more agrarian on ordinary. Both equally GDP share and employment share in the agricultural sector are positively linked with an raise in AGVC participation. On the other hand, individual nations around the world also have a tendency to come to be considerably less industrial and additional products and services-primarily based. Each GDP and employment shares in manufacturing lower as the place will increase its participation in AGVCs, when in the expert services sector a lot more participation in AGVCs is positively and appreciably connected with an maximize in the GDP share and the employment share. These results counsel that present day agrarian economies are leapfrogging the manufacturing sector to right acquire their providers sector through greater participation in AGVCs. This result runs counter to the typical knowledge about structural transformation − a sequential advancement system by the agricultural, manufacturing, and providers sector above time.

2nd, I find that the main results of structural transformation surface to be driven by significant-cash flow countries. Outside of the large-cash flow category, the results appear to be to be highly dependent on the kind of country regarded. For case in point, work shares in minimal-income and decrease-middle-revenue nations in unique look to follow the conventional structural transformation narrative.

Last but not least, I even further analyse no matter whether positioning in AGVCs matters for structural transformation. After decomposing the total AGVC participation into upstream participation and downstream participation in AGVCs, I uncover that the core leapfrogging outcome continues to be sturdy the two upstream and downstream. Nonetheless, when GDP shares are the results less than consideration, upstream participation in AGVCs is involved with a extra agrarian economic system when employment shares are the results, downstream participation in AGVCs is related with a much more agrarian economy. This discovering implies that upstream participation potential customers to additional labour-intense agriculture, and downstream participation sales opportunities to far more money-intensive agriculture.

Plan conclusions

The conclusions in this column can enable inform agricultural trade coverage in two approaches. First, policymakers may well desire to emphasis on participation in international agricultural manufacturing if their aim is to renovate their economies by reallocating assets across sectors. In debates about Brexit, the redesign of the North American Cost-free Trade Settlement (NAFTA), and the current trade war amongst the US and China, trade policies are targeted a lot more on protecting domestic agriculture from agricultural imports. This perspective would seem to mirror a tacit expectation that GVC linkages change the typical calculus of trade defense. The final results propose that trade liberalisation as a result of agricultural GVCs can guide to structural transformation in the similar way that a state can reallocate its economic assets in non-agricultural sectors, which has been viewed as a primary driver of economic expansion.

Next, even though it may perhaps be tempting for governments to foster participation in GVCs with an eye towards structural transformation, policymakers need to be cautious when attempting to open up up their agricultural marketplaces. The final results listed here counsel that a region is capable to changeover its economy out of agriculture as a result of its participation in GVCs by manufacturing intermediate inputs linked to manufacturing and services but not in the agriculture sector. Since quite a few bad developing nations around the world have a competitive edge in agriculture relatively than in producing or service, they may well be tempted to be a part of agricultural GVCs by allocating additional agricultural means to intermediate output for export. While doing so may end result in increased all round GDP or work, it is unlikely to renovate an overall economy into a person principally centered on producing and products and services. Trade guidelines ought to thus be built to make improvements to production or services-linked domestic pursuits in intermediate agricultural manufacturing.


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