Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (8): 1331-1346.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201708001

• Industrial Development •     Next Articles

Participation in global production networks and export product upgrading

Canfei HE1(), Hanghang CHEN2   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. College of Urban Planning and Design, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2016-08-12 Revised:2017-03-13 Online:2017-08-20 Published:2017-08-20
  • Supported by:
    National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, No.41425001


Organized globally and led by trans-national enterprises, global production networks (GPNs) develop rapidly along with the advancement of technology and deepening of trade liberalization. GPN provides great opportunities for developing countries to blend in global economy and realize their technological advance, as well as value chain upgrading. Facing the pressure of shifting model of economic development, China has urgent need of optimizing export trade though she has experienced marvelous success especially on export trade during the past few decades, so that the study on export product upgrading can be particularly important. Based on such consideration, this article focuses on how participating GPN influences China's export product upgrade. This article uses the conception of quality to quantitively describe product upgrade, and we calculate the product quality based on data of customs trade database from 2000 to 2011. The result shows that export product quality presents a declining trend from east to west of China, and the average quality of the whole country fluctuates a lot during 2000-2011 with a slight rising trend showing up recently. We then build several econometric models to examine whether participating in GPN matters, and how exactly this influence works. The results show that participating in GPN has remarkable influence on export product upgrading especially in eastern China, but market dispersion does not help in product upgrading. We also find that R&D investment cannot promote regional position in global value chain in eastern China, forming a typical "Low-end lock-in". Capital- and technology-intensive products benefit a lot from participating in GPN while labour-intensive exports may open markets with low-quality products. Fiscal decentralization is a key determinant in eastern and central provinces, and local governments tend to give more support to technology-intensive product upgrading.

Key words: global production network, export product upgrading, export product quality, vertical specification, China