Despite widespread agreement among economists that labor-intensive manufacturing has contributed mightily to rapid development in China and other fast-growing economies, most developing countries have had little success in raising the share of manufacturing in production, employment, or exports. The study recounts efforts to establish light manufacturing clusters in several Asian and African countries, looking in particular at China. A companion volume to Light Manufacturing in Africa—which laid out a strategy for injecting new industrial growth nodes into African economies—Tales from the Development Frontier focuses on the six main binding constraints to competitiveness that nascent light manufacturing industries must overcome in developing countries: the availability, cost, and quality of inputs; access to industrial land; access to finance; trade logistics; entrepreneurial capabilities, both technical and managerial; and worker skills. The volume systematically explores potential growth opportunities in light manufacturing in a carefully selected subset of industries: agribusiness, apparel, leather goods, wood-working, and metal products.
Download the full text here.