Mainstream economics and the agenda promoted by Washington Consensus institutions focuses on the role played by markets. In recent years, this policy agenda has been concentrated on a series of behind-, beyond- and between-the-border trade-related issues. Whilst valuable, this agenda fails to address some of the major determinants of export supply in developing economies. By contrast, the value chain framework provides a rich agenda for the design and implementation of policies designed to enhance export supply. These issues are addressed in this paper through a discussion of the dynamics of rent and rent appropriation, the growing role of standards and turnkey production. Contemporary global value chains are in a state of flux, with a reduced likelihood of capability-building supply chain programmes in low-income economies outside of Asia.