Global value chains and the rise of the Global South: Unpacking 21st century polycentric trade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A growing body of research points to the “Rise of the South” and the growth of South-South trade. This article considers the implications of the shifting dynamics of global trade and the greater prominence of Southern actors for the conceptualisation of global value chains (GVCs) and production networks (GPNs). It first explores the changing geography of global trade through trade data analysis. It then goes on to suggest that our understanding of GVCs and GPNs in a context where Southern actors and Southern end markets have more prominent roles requires greater attention to the existence of multiple different value chains (VCs) and production networks (PNs) serving different end markets – including domestic, regional and global. Consequently, both governance dynamics – lead firm strategies and standards requirements – as well as upgrading prospects must be refined based on recognition of this shifting trade geography and emergence of more polycentric trade. The article concludes by raising a number of new research questions regarding the conceptualisation of VCs and PNs in a world where Southern actors and Southern markets are increasingly important.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-237
JournalGlobal Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs
Issue number2
Early online date31 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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