The central objective of the project was to help fill the gap between the analysis of global processes and their macroeconomic impacts, and the analysis of consequent changes in poverty and income distribution at the level of workers and households. This was motivated by a belief that a better understanding of the causal linkages between globalisation and poverty is essential in order to design policies which will help eliminate poverty within a context shaped by global trends.
Two African and two Asian countries were selected for the research. In two of these countries (Vietnam and South Africa) there have been major changes in the 1990s in terms of their insertion into the global economy as a result of the collapse of the communist block and the ending of apartheid respectively. The other two countries, Bangladesh and Kenya, have also become more open during this period, although not in such dramatic circumstances. They were of particular interest for the project because Kenya is regarded as an African success story in terms of its exports of horticultural products, while Bangladesh has become an important exporter of garments.
A central part of the project was the analysis of three value chains - horticulture, garments and textiles. Horticulture was selected as a major non-traditional agricultural export which has acquired increasing importance for a number of low income countries. Garments was the obvious choice as a manufactured good which has been the entry point into world markets for many countries, while textiles were selected as an example of a sector where production for the domestic market had traditionally been important and which was now subject to increased global competition.. Each of the value chains was studied both at the global level and in two of the case study countries.