WIDER Seminar Series

Amrita Saha on trade, technology and absorptive capacity of Tanzanian textiles and apparel companies

WIDER Seminar Series

Amrita Saha gave a presentation on 20 May 2020, as part of the Sustainable development solutions for Tanzania – strengthening research to achieve SDGs project. The presentation was held as a webinar.

Abstract - Trade, technology and absorptive capacity: Firm-level evidence across geographical clusters from Tanzanian textiles and apparel


Trade-linked technological change holds the potential to upgrade and increase incomes in low-income countries (LICs). The most labour-intensive segments of the textile and apparel global value chain are in these LICs. However, severe gaps between the available technologies and best practices present challenges for adopting more efficient production processes or move into higher value-added functions in the global value chain.

This paper examines current technology use in the Tanzanian textile and apparel sector using nationally representative secondary data – in conjunction with primary quantitative data and qualitative information from semi-structured interviews. First, we examine the role of firms’ absorptive capacity in mediating the effect of imported technology on firm productivity. Second, we look at differences across geographical clusters of firms distinguished in terms of local linkage types within the clusters. Third, we assess current technology use, gaps in terms of firm capabilities, and challenges in the sector to identify specific policy implications. Finally, we also provide brief reflections on how firms in the Tanzanian textiles and apparel sector may adapt in a post-covid recovery phase.

About the speaker

Amrita Saha is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Her work with international organizations and development agencies focuses on trade policy, agriculture, innovation, and political economy questions in development. 

Amrita Saha holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex, for which she received the Export Import Bank of India’s International Economic Research Annual (IERA) Award.