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Measuring trade in value added in the new industrial economy: statistical implications

Escaith, Hubert (2008): Measuring trade in value added in the new industrial economy: statistical implications.

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Abstract

Vertical integration of production processes at international level and the resulting fragmentation of the value chains increasingly question the relevance of traditional trade indicators. Intermediate productions are increasingly offshored within these global value chains, giving place to what is known as "trade in tasks". The paper presents some experiences of alternative measures of international trade in terms of the value added generated by this process. The strength with which the concept of value added has imposed itself as the yardstick for the measurement of international trade has very fruitful analytical implications in the context of national accounts. A second part shows how the international statistical system has responded to the obvious risk of obsolescence by launching a series of joint initiatives in order to adapt all the instruments of the statistician’s “tool-box”: classifications, balance of payments and national accounts manuals. Conclusions highlight the remaining challenges, as well as the divergences that persist among the groups of experts in relation to the proposed reforms and their normative and practical impacts.

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