Trade and Industry

Displaying items by tag: Regional value chains

UNU WIDER Research Brief

This policy brief, Unlocking a regional plastics value chain between Mozambique and South Africa, forms part of the project: Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED)

Plastics are universal and integrated into different sectors of the economy. Industrial policy requires countries to look at moving up the value chain and producing progressively more sophisticated products to contribute to improved economic development. The input materials that are used for industrial development need to be priced appropriately to unlock all the opportunities along the value chain.

Available online at:

The PDF:

This brief is based on WIDER Working Paper 148/2020 Future-proofing the plastics value chain in Southern Africa, by Liako Mofo.

  • Year December 2020
  • Author(s) Liako Mofo (TIPS)
Published in Policy Briefs

WIDER Working Paper 2020/148

This working paper, Future-proofing the plastics value chain in Southern Africa, forms part of the project: Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED)


Plastics are ubiquitous across the region and play an important role in multiple industries. Most plastic products are based on a value chain that is grounded in petroleum refining, posing an environmental challenge. Plastic manufacturing in South Africa suffers from the high cost of polymers as inputs. Mozambique is endowed with large natural gas deposits.  

This research assesses the potential for the sustainable development of a plastics value chain in Southern Africa, with the aim of future-proofing the industry against changes in the petroleum space while bolstering growth in plastics manufacture and fostering a more equitable regional distribution of plastics activities. This study found that there is strong regional value chain potential between South Africa and Mozambique, with Mozambique producing natural gas feedstock and South Africa providing labour, capital, and technology. South African plastic manufacturers could also benefit from better input prices derived from better priced natural gas from Mozambique.

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A Policy Brief based on the working Paper is also available: Unlocking a regional plastics value chain between Mozambique and South Africa

TIPS acknowledges the support of the SA-TIED programme for this working paper, with special thanks to UNU-WIDER and the South African Department of Trade and Industry.

Published in Trade and Industry

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have placed industrial development at the core of the region’s integrated development agenda. This report by Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis & Research (ZIPAR) is part of a programme that seeks to identify existing and potential opportunities to further the development of specific value chains among and across SADC member states.

The paper explores and assesses regional competitiveness and opportunities in the electrotechnical industry for both South Africa and Zambia. It offers an in-depth assessment of the structure and status of the electrotechnical value chain in these countries by presenting production and consumption patterns, input suppliers and producers, export markets for products from the sectors, as well as the import patterns in relevant subsectors. This research looks at these themes for the purpose of informing cross-cutting country policy initiatives based on a shared understanding of industrial development challenges at a regional level.

  • Year 2019
  • Organisation TIPS and ZIPAR
  • Author(s) Sithembiso Mtanga (TIPS), Francis Ziba (ZIPAR) and Bernard Tembo (ZIPAR)
  • Countries and Regions Zambia
Published in Trade and Industry

Greater regional integration would support economic diversification and industrialisation in Southern Africa by expanding markets for consumers and capital goods as well as drawing together capacities from different of countries. It would, however, require a greater degree of specialisation between nations to permit economies of scale. In this context, the concept of regional value chains proves useful in identifying opportunities for more integrated industrialisation. On the one hand, it underscores the potential for enhancing economic integration based on improved specialisation and competitiveness in the partner economies; on the other, it provides a framework for systematic analysis of factors that prevent investment and growth.

This working paper outlines the evolution of the value-chain concept as a way to understand opportunities for industrialisation. Using the value chain framework in the regional context shifts the focus away from global demand and partnerships to local and regional markets and relationships. It underscores the importance of managing the difficult trade-offs involved in deepening the regional division of labour. The second section of the paper describes the Southern African economy, which was unusually unequal and dependent on commodity exports. It also reviews existing trade in continental SADC. It evaluates the effects of freight transport as a cross-cutting constraint. A case study of copper manufacturing illustrates the utility of value chains to guide analysis. This section points to key blockages to diversification, notably the difficulty of improving coordination between national policies and challenges around reshaping the division of labour to promote regional industrialisation without excessive costs to South African producers.  

This Working Paper is a draft for a chapter in a book: Fortunato, P. ed. (Forthcoming). Productive  Transformation and Regional Value Chains in Southern Africa. UN: New York and Geneva

  • Year 2020
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Author(s) Neva Makgetla and Saul Levin (TIPS)
  • Countries and Regions Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Published in Trade and Industry

This research report aims to identify opportunities to develop the regional value chain in agricultural inputs, and the opportunities within that value chain for regional trade. It also aims to detail policy initiatives to be undertaken by the South African Department of Trade and Industry to capitalise on those opportunities in order to promote regional integration and growth and development supported by expanding regional value chains.The study covers the following countries: South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. The research aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is the current profile of the agricultural inputs sector in each country?
  • What are the key factors driving demand for different categories of agricultural inputs across the four countries?
  • What are the main factors that constrain demand for agricultural inputs in each country, and in aggregate across the region?
  • What is the current structure of the regional value chain in these inputs? How is it organised?
  • How well is the chain functioning?
  • What and where are the opportunities to improve the functioning of the regional value chain?
  • What does this analysis imply for the dti’s regional development policy?

  • Year 2017
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Author(s) Tracy Ledger
Published in Trade and Industry

This study provides an overview and analysis of the structure, key functions and characteristics of the forestry value chain operating in and among South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania in order to identify market opportunities and the interventions required to support the growth of the regional value chain. The research focuses on three value chains – forestry to timber; forestry to pulp and paper; and forestry to furniture.

It focuses on three countries – South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania. The latter two were selected on the basis of their current level of forestry output, together with their contiguous location. An evidence-based approach has been adopted for this study, based on the compilation of industry data from existing and new sources. The value chain analysis is focused on answering the following questions: how is the value chain organised? How does it function? Who are the main actors? What are the key institutions and forms of coordination? How well is the chain performing in coordination, competitiveness and intra-regional trade? Where are the opportunities to (1) relocate parts of the chain among the countries, and (2) to enhance existing intra-regional activities?

  • Year 2017
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Author(s) Tracy Ledger
  • Countries and Regions Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Published in Trade and Industry

Technical regulations refer to standards and compulsory specifications that apply to certain products and processes, and which can play an important role in regional trade. Firms that wish to trade in value chains need to be able to comply with the regulations set by lead firms and state regulators, or risk being excluded from those value chains, and replaced with compliant competitors. It is therefore essential that Southern Africa’s technical infrastructure aids firms in meeting technical regulations in order to develop working regional value chains. Failure to do so could see otherwise capable regional firms excluded from value chains and replaced with compliant firms from outside the region.

This report makes nine key recommendations, all of which aim to strengthen the capacity of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Technical Infrastructure to achieve its core mandates, while promoting regional value chain development. 

  • Year 2016
  • Organisation TIPS
  • Author(s) Christopher Wood
  • Countries and Regions Southern African Development Community (SADC)
Published in Trade and Industry