Technology generation and international collaboration in the Global Value Chain of Lithium Batteries
The Global Value Chain (GVC) literature generally highlights the opportunities for developing economies to be found in technological upgrading – although the generation of technology tends to be associated with the highest added-value stages, what could be a limiting aspect in those chains based primarily on natural resources. The case of lithium batteries allows analysis of the trade-off between technology generation and international collaboration, as well as any potential asymmetries between producers of natural resources and end-use products within the same GVC. Lithium is a relevant component, currently seen as a valuable player in the reduction of fossil fuel emissions, given the potential of lithium batteries for energy storage, in final applications ranging from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. Our findings show a divergent relationship between lithium producers and related technologies at the country level, across the different stages of the Global Value Chain for Lithium Batteries (GVCLB), and this suggests that upgrading throughout the value chain could foster imbalances. Empirical analysis has been conducted using data from patent applications made to the European Patent Office, and the findings reveal wide international divergence and numerous interactions within the GVCLB, defining a complex international pattern of collaboration, with technology generation concentrated into very few economies.
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