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  September 20th, 2017 | Written by

Changes in Technology and Trade Disrupting Manufacturing-Led Development

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  • World Bank report: Changes in manufacturing’s ability to create jobs in developing countries.
  • World Bank report encourages policymakers to adjust their approach to spurring job creation in manufacturing.
  • We need to embrace change rather than fear it.

Advances in technology and changing trade patterns are affecting opportunities for export-led manufacturing. Smart automation, advanced robotics, and 3D printing are new factors influencing which locations are attractive for production. While these shifts threaten significant disruptions in future employment, particularly for low-skilled workers, they also offer opportunities, according to a new report released today by the World Bank Group.

The report, “Trouble in the Making? The Future of Manufacturing-Led Development,” underscores the resulting changes in the manufacturing sector’s ability to create jobs and lift people out of poverty in developing countries. It encourages policymakers to adjust their approach to spurring job creation in manufacturing and readying workers for the jobs of the future.

“Technology and globalization are changing how manufacturing contributes to development,” said Anabel Gonzalez, the World Bank Group’s Senior Director for Trade & Competitiveness. “We will need to embrace this change rather than fear it. In the past, the manufacturing sector created jobs for unskilled workers and increased productivity. In the future, developing countries will need to update their policies along with their infrastructure, firm capabilities and job creation strategies to meet the demands of a more technologically advanced world.”

Changing technologies and shifting globalization patterns are destined to reshape manufacturing-led development strategies, according to the report. Trade is slowing. Global value chains remain concentrated among a relatively small number of countries. Smart automation, advanced robotics, 3D printing, and other advances being incorporated by global manufacturers of cars, electronics, apparel, consumer, and other goods are shifting how countries and firms compete for production.