Director of the Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness at Duke University, and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Advanced Manufacturing.Gary Gereffi is Director of the Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness at Duke University, and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Advanced Manufacturing.

People often use “global factory” as a metaphor to describe the worldwide reach of contemporary production and sourcing networks. Recent activities of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils related to manufacturing and trade are clearly mimicking that model.

A series of reports and meetings over the past year have identified a rich agenda of topics and a prospective framework to assess the opportunities and challenges created by the global manufacturing system, which will be further discussed at the upcoming Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai.

In April 2012, the Global Agenda Council on the Global Trade System produced the report, The Shifting Geography of Global Value Chains: Implications for Developing Countries and Trade Policy, which complements the World Economic Forum report, The Future of Manufacturing: Opportunities to Drive Economic Growth. Together, these two reports offer a detailed portrait of how the globalization of manufacturing has been a key driver of higher-value job creation and a rising standard of living for the growing middle class in a wide range of developing economies. However, new competitors are continually emerging, which will profoundly shape manufacturing supply chains over the coming decades.

To better understand these future opportunities and challenges, the Global Agenda Council on Advanced Manufacturing – which served as a consultative group for The Future of Manufacturing report and is chaired by Fadi Farra and co-chaired by Jun Ni – released Enabling Sustainable Global Manufacturing. This report proposes a framework for advanced manufacturing that can be used by policy-makers, the private sector and civil society.

Representative scenarios for four groups of economies are outlined in the report, and this year’s Council on Advanced Manufacturing will attempt to develop these ideas further in Dubai around at least two specific workstreams: one will focus on value chain mapping for case studies of advanced manufacturing, and the other will focus on designing a scorecard or index to show levels of manufacturing competitiveness.

From Berlin to Duke University and Washington to Costa Rica, workshops have been organized on the issue of manufacturing in the lead up to Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai. If manufacturing has gone global, so have the activities of the Forum’s diligent teams that are tracking these developments.

 Image: Employees work on machines used to make auto parts at a factory in Noida REUTERS/Adnan Abidi