South Africa's Export Predicament

29 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2008

See all articles by Ricardo Hausmann

Ricardo Hausmann

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Bailey Klinger

Center for International Development

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Abstract

Using South Africa as an example, this article explores how the structure of production affects export diversification and economic growth. We show that the lagging process of structural transformation is part of the explanation for stagnant exports per capita in South Africa over the past 40 years. This slow structural transformation is shown to be a consequence in part of the peripheral nature of South Africa's productive capabilities: the country is specialized in sectors intensive in highly specific factors of production that cannot be easily redeployed to other activities. Using this methodology, we examine the sectoral priorities of the South African Department of Trade and Industry and explore the policy implications of the country's orientation in the product space.

Suggested Citation

Hausmann, Ricardo and Klinger, Bailey, South Africa's Export Predicament. Economics of Transition, Vol. 16, Issue 4, pp. 609-637, October 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1269694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0351.2008.00337.x

Ricardo Hausmann (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Bailey Klinger

Center for International Development ( email )

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