PEGNet Expert Meeting

Industrial policy in times of pandemic - The risks and benefits of government intervention to #buildbackbetter

14 Sep 2020

Follow the workshop on Twitter: #PEGNet2020@PEGNetKiel

Industrial policy is back. The COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis it caused increase the pressure on policy makers to actively engage in industrial policy-making: Subsidising or even rescuing companies, buying shares, offering state guarantees, introducing national controls of production of, or trade with, critical health products, etc. Also, with regard to post-COVID recovery schemes, specific investments are advocated for, e.g. in green technologies and digital capabilities.

This raises concerns among those who prefer as little policy interference as possible in the allocative efficiency of markets. Hence the old core question of industrial policy about specific (“vertical”) vs. generic ( “horizontal”) public support is coming back big. To what extent are specific investments needed to shape structural changes in desirable ways to #buildbackbetter? Would those open a pandora’s box of lobbyism and favouritism?

In this online event, we will start from the conceptual debate about „picking winners“ to then discuss appropriate industrial policies to #buildbackbetter. To inform policy makers, including those in developing countries, as well as development organisations on good industrial policy-making in times of pandemic, the following questions will be addressed:

  • Many support the idea of using post-COVID economic stimuli to promote structural change, investing e.g. in green technologies and digital capabilities. How technology-specific should such investments be and what does the industrial policy debate tell us in this regard?
  • What are the best investments to #buildbackbetter?


We very much look forward to discussing these questions with

  • Gabriel Felbermayr, President, Kiel Institute for the World Economy

  • Augustin K. Fosu, Professor, ISSER, University of Ghana

  • Arkebe Oqubay, Senior Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

  • John Page, The Brookings Institution and former director at the World Bank

  • Lindsay Whitfield, Professor, Roskilde University

  • Tilman Altenburg, Head of department "Sustainable Economic and Social Development", German Development Institute

The session will be moderated by Clara Brandi, Senior Researcher, German Development Institute.


To (try to) answer these questions, GIZ’s Sector Project on Sustainable Economic Development, DIE and PEGNet will host an online event with leading researchers and practitioners in the field.
The event will bring together participants from national and international development organisations, will take place on 14 September 2020 from 14.00 to 15.30 CET.



    • Dr. Kacana Khadjavi