The Government Integrated Manufacturing Strategy identifies competitiveness as its primary focus, and value matrices as the framework within which to assess manufacturing performance. This paper investigates industrial policy in the manufacturing sector through performing two main exercises. The first is a review of the interpretation of competitiveness and its determinants. The second is an assessment of South African manufacturing performance in a comparative context. It makes reference to recent studies of manufacturing sub-sectors, and draws comparisons with the performance of other developing countries. Drawing on analysis, implications are discussed for the government's industrial policy framework and the use of a value matrix methodology.