Global value chains (GVCs) refer to the complex network of design, logistics, operations, marketing and sales, and manufacturing that transforms a product from conception to a finished good. GVCs have transformed international trade flows and, as such, provide a useful means to understand the global economy. They are characterized by a fragmented production process with various value-added contributions occurring in different parts of the world.

GVCs are often used interchangeably with global supply chains. It should be noted, however, that slight differences exist between the two concepts. "Value chains" refer to the coordination of the production of complex goods over many countries. They tend to be driven by multinational lead firms. In contrast, "supply chains" implies an emphasis on the physical movement of goods necessary for value chains to operate. Further, supply chains can refer to the transactions that connect global buyers and sellers of simple goods such as agricultural products.  

The development of GVCs and their economic impact on countries, industries, and firms has been widely discussed in various business and economics literature. The purpose of this Journal of international Commerce and Economics (JICE) Special Edition on GVCs is to add to this growing pool of research. Each of the articles presented tackles various aspects of GVC analysis. In the first Chapter, "Global Value Chains Analysis: Concepts and Approaches," the authors highlight some of the key topics covered in GVC literature, aiming to give readers a comprehensive overview of the relevant material to enhance their understanding of GVC research.

Chapters two and three assess the GVC's of specific industries. Chapter two traces the East Asia-Pacific region's participation in the GVC for electronic products over the past 20 years, with particular attention paid to trade in intermediate goods and recent foreign direct investment (FDI) into the region. Chapter three explores China's transition into higher-value-added segments of the medical device GVC as observed through changes in both the composition of FDI and in the technological complexity of its medical device exports.

Chapter four reviews the supply chain for electric vehicle batteries, a critical component for electric vehicles. Because of its centrality to the operation of GVCs, this discussion of supply chains is a welcome contribution to the Special Edition. The final chapter of this issue covers the value of U.S. services employment in manufacturing sectors. Using data on service occupations in the U.S. manufacturing sectors in 2016, the paper highlights the value of in-house services in U.S. manufacturing output.

The JICE Special Edition on GVCs reflects the work of the U.S. International Trade Commission's analysts in both the Office of Economics and Industries over the past year-and-a-half. In five chapters, it presents a broad spectrum of GVC research, covering specific industries, selected countries and regions, and specific products. 


Mihir Torsekar

JICE Special Topic Editor

September 2019


Chapter 1 Global Value Chain Analysis: Concepts and Approaches

Chapter 2 East Asia-Pacific's Participation in the Global Value Chain for Electronic Products

Chapter 3 China Climbs the Global Value Chain for Medical Devices

Chapter 4 The Supply Chain for Electric Vehicle Batteries

Chapter 5 The Value of U.S. Service Employment in Manufacturing Sectors