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Mapping Fragmentation: Electronics and Automobiles in East Asia and Latin America

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Abstract

'Fragmentation', the relocation of processes or functions across countries in response to cost and other differences, has important implications for development. We discuss the drivers of fragmentation and map it for electronics and automotives in East Asia and Latin America. For technical reasons, electronics is fragmenting faster worldwide than autos. Electronics networks are more advanced, widespread and integrated in EA than LAC, and are largely responsible for EA's rapid export growth. The auto network is more advanced in LAC but is slower growing and is not integrated into a regional system. Apart from Mexico, LAC lacks an electronics network, partly accounting for the region's weak export performance. We offer insights into the following: Why do industries fragment differently? How can fragmentation be measured? Why does fragmentation in developing countries concentrate on EA and LAC? Why has fragmentation evolved differently in these two regions? Can other developing regions attract and benefit from fragmentation?

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