I am an economist by training with interests in international development issues, particularly trade and foreign investment, and in industrialization. My current research focuses on the impact of the growth of China on other developing countries, especially in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is part of a programme of research over the past decade on the economic, social and environmental impacts of globalisation. I have had a long term interest in the activities of transnational corporations in the South and this has recently included analysis of corporate social responsibility. My main geographical area of interest is Latin America.

Career History

Rhys has over thirty years experience of research in developing countries with a particular interest in Latin America and has also worked in East Asia and South Africa.  He has acted as a consultant for a number of international bodies including UNCTAD, UNIDO and UNRISD and for the Department of International Development.

His research interests are in the broad area of the impact of globalisation on developing countries.  He has led research projects on globalisation and the environment, and globalisation and poverty.  His published books include Transnational Corporations and Uneven Development (Methuen), Environmental Regulation in the New Global Economy (Edward Elgar), Industry and Environment in Latin America (Routledge) and Corporate Responsibility and Labour Rights (Earthscan).  He has recently been researching the impacts of China’s global expansion on other developing countries.

Academic Background

Rhys holds an MA from the University of Cambridge and a D.Phil. from the University of Sussex.

CV and Experience

Click here to download Rhys' CV.


Key Research Interests

Transnational corporations; international economic relations; industrial development and policy; trade and environment. Latin America and South-east Asia.

Research Groups: Gloablisation and CSR

Research Activities

The Implications of China’s Growth and Integration with the Global Economy for Developing Countries

The rapid growth of China over the past three decades and its increased integration with the global economy is having a major impact on other developing countries, both directly in terms of bilateral trade and investment flows and indirectly through competition for export markets and investment and impacts on the terms of trade between manufactures and primary products.  A research project under the ESRC’s World Economy and Finance programme looked at ‘The Impact of China’s Global Economic Expansion on Latin America’. A briefing paper summarising the findings of this project is available here.

Two projects funded by the ESRC Pathfinder Programme 'Brazilian Manufacturing in the Face of Chinese Competition: Economic Restructuring, Competitiveness and Employment' and ‘Chinese Competition and the Restructuring of South African Manufacturing' analysed some of the impacts of China on Brazil and South Africa in more depth.

Previous to this, several consultancy studies were undertaken for DfID on the effects of China’s growth on poverty reduction in Africa, Asia and Latin America (; the effects of China and India’s growth and liberalization on poverty in Africa (; and an agenda setting paper on the impact of China in Latin America (Download here

Two articles co-authored with Chris Edwards have analysed relations between Sub-Saharan Africa and China and India in the IDS Bulletin and The Journal of Asian Economics.  

A Leverhulme Research Grant has funded a comparative study of China’s impact on Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa

Link to the IDS Asian Drivers’ programme

Link to the Open University Asian Drivers’ programme

Globalization, Production and Poverty

The debate over the impact of globalization is one of the central issues in development studies today.  However the mechanisms which link global trends to poverty outcomes are poorly understood. A  DfID funded project looked at the impacts of globalization on production and poverty in four countries (Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Vietnam) at the macro, meso and micro-levels.  These studies show that poverty outcomes are highly dependent on both global processes and the local context. 

Results from the project were published in two special issues of the Journal of International Development, Vol. 16, No.1, 2004 and Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 9 (2), 2004, as well as a number of other journal articles and Working Papers.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Transnational Corporations

The growing significance of transnational corporations (TNCs) as actors in the global economy and the declining role of the state in regulation has led to calls for greater self-regulation by business reflected in the growth of voluntary codes of conduct, particularly in the areas of labour rights and environmental behaviour.  A critical perspective on corporate social responsibility is needed to counteract the hegemonic discourse of the CSR industry. 

Early research on codes of conduct resulted in the publication of an UNRISD Discussion Paper on “Corporate Codes of Conduct: Self-Regulation in a Global Economy” (Download from here and a book co-edited with Ruth Pearson and Gill Seyfang, Corporate Responsibility and Labour Rights,  

More recent research has contributed to the development of a critical perspective on CSR with the International Research Network on Business, Development and Society (

Teaching Interests

I have taught a range of undergraduate and postgraduate units in DEV over a number of years.  Currently I teach two units focussing on globalization, Globalization and Economic Development at the undergraduate level and Globalization, Business and Development in the Masters’ Programme.

I also contribute to teaching on the MA in Development Economics in the unit on International Economic Policy.

I have also taught on basic economics units in the undergraduate programme and contributedsto the regional model on Latin American Development.

Rhys is currently supervising the following research students:

Kok Onn Ting, ‘The Impact of China’s Rise on the Malaysian Electronics and Electrical sector’

Dafni Skalidou, ‘The Impact of Fair Trade on smallholder cocoa farmers and banana plantation workers: Providing evidence from Ghana’