Learning-by-exporting in South Africa: The influence of global value chain (GVC) participation and technological capability*

Caio Torres Mazzi, Gideon Ndubuisi*, Elvis Avenyo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Using the South African Revenue Service and National Treasury firm-level panel data for 2009–2017, this paper investigates how trade related to the global value chain (GVC) affects the performance of manufacturing firms in South Africa. The paper uses extant classifications of internationally traded products to identify different categories of GVC-related products and compares the productivity premium of international traders for these different categories. Also, the paper investigates possible differences in learning-by-exporting effects across the identified categories of GVC-related products by estimating the effect of exporting before and after entry into foreign markets. The results confirm that GVC-related trade is associated with a higher productivity premium compared with traditional trade. However, within the categories of exporters, only the firms that trade in GVC-related products and simultaneously engage in research and development in the post-entry periods appear to learn from exporting. Our results underscore the gains of GVC integration in terms of the associated productivity premia and highlight the need for GVC-integrated firms to invest in building technological capacity.

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • exporter premia
  • GVCs
  • parts and components
  • South Africa


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