The analysis of the export performance
The analysis of the export performance through selected countries reveals interesting features (Table 3). The first one is the evident Chinese leadership. China doubled its market share during the analyzed period. Chinese exports grew 310 per cent in the decade and, regardless of having reduced its growth level in the second half of the decade, still grow at an impressive yearly average of 13.1 per cent. As a consequence, the competitiveness gap between China and its mains competitors had apparently widened.
Another country which deserves special attention is Vietnam, which had a 496 per cent increase in its LII exports in the decade and, within the relevant countries of the world ranking, was the country with the largest growth in the second five-year Silvestrol (17.9 per cent). This performance moved took the country from the 26th position in 2000 to the 7th position in 2010. As pointed out by the literature, in the last few years, part of the Chinese labor-intensive production and exports have shifted to neighboring countries, including Vietnam, seeking for still more favorable labor-cost conditions (Roberts, 2010). The performance of India also deserves special attention, since it advanced four positions in the ranking, achieving the 6th position in 2010 with a cumulative growth rate of 168 per cent in the decade. Still in Asia, Bangladesh also had a remarkable evolution, having grown 222 per cent in the ten-year period and catching up eight positions in the ranking (placed 13th in 2010). Vietnam and Bangladesh seemed not to be negatively affected by the financial crisis in the second half of the decade, since their yearly export growth averages were 17.9 per cent and 15.1 per cent respectively, far above the world average (5.8 per cent).
In the last few years, Brazilian companies have increased their economic interest in Central America and the Caribbean. The Brazilian press has registered the displacement of labor-intensive industries from Brazil to several Central American countries, seeking tax, logistic, and labor-cost advantages – especially when the exports are destined to the United States (Bueno, 2010, 2011; Bueno and Koike, 2012). Considering the regional differences and advantages that determine foreign direct investment, some Brazilian companies also have been displacing their production sites to Asia, especially to China. This reallocation seems to correspond to a second step of a former movement, initiated still in the 1990s, of displacement between regions within Brazil. At that time, attracted by similar advantage factors, Brazilian companies from richer regions displaced their production sites to the poorer states in the Northeast part of the country seeking competitiveness gains. These companies enjoyed the donation of land and the building of infrastructure by state governments. This movement was particularly intense in the footwear industry, known as the “nomad industry”, precisely due to its historical tendency of displacements (Costa and Fligenspan, 2013).
Going back to the information in Table 3, it is possible to envisage that South Korea and Mexico had negative growth rates in the 2000s, loosing several positions in the ranking. The reasons for such results must have been different for both countries, it seems that South Korea has lost interest in disputing the international market of products with low value added, given its good performance in the high technology products, while Mexico was not able to sustain its competitiveness.
Brazilian exports of labor-intensive goods Brazilian exports of labor-intensive goods grew 36 per cent in the 2000s (Table 4). However that growth was very unequal during the period – positive in the first half of the decade and negative in the second half, when global trade was negatively affected by the global financial crisis and the subsequent “great recession” (Cynamon et al., 2013). It is noteworthy that there is a high concentration of exports in the four main products that encompass the largest participation in the country\'s LII exports – leather, footwear, textiles and furniture. These products uphold 85 per cent of the exports during the analyzed period, notwithstanding the significant modifications in the participation of the two first products.