Trading Arrangements and Industrial Development

33 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2004

See all articles by Diego Puga

Diego Puga

IMDEA Social Sciences; University of Toronto - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Anthony J. Venables

University of Oxford; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 1997

Abstract

A new approach to analyzing the role of trade in promoting industrial development.

How do different trading arrangements influence the industrialization process of developing countries? Can preferential trading arrangements (PTAs) be superior to multilateral liberalization, or at least an alternative when multilateral liberalization proceeds slowly? If so, what form should the PTAs take? Are developing countries better advised to seek PTAs with industrial countries or among themselves? Traditional analysis of these issues has been based on the ideas of trade creation and trade diversion. The problem with this analysis is that it starts from assuming a pattern of comparative advantage. This stands in sharp contrast to the apparently changing comparative advantage of newly industrialized countries. The experience of these countries suggests the need for an analysis in which the pattern of comparative advantage is not set in stone but is potentially flexible, and in which less developed countries can develop and converge in both income and economic structure to industrial economies.

Puga and Venables outline an alternative approach for analyzing the role of trade in promoting industrial development. There are few fundamental differences between countries that generate immutable patterns of comparative advantage. Instead the pattern of trade and development in the world economy is determined mainly by history. Cumulative causation has created concentrations of industrial activity in particular locations (industrial countries) and left other areas more dependent on primary activities. Economic development can be thought of as the spread of these concentrations from country to country. Different trading arrangements may have a major impact on this development process. By changing the attractiveness of countries as a base for manufacturing production they can potentially trigger or postpone industrial development. This approach explains why firms are reluctant to move to economies that have lower wages and labor costs, and shows how trade liberalization can change the incentives to become established in developing countries. It provides a mechanism through which import liberalization can have a powerful effect in promoting industrialization. And it suggests that import liberalization may create or amplify differences between liberalizing countries with the possible political tensions this may create. While these features are consistent with the world economy, they fall short of providing convincing empirical support for the approach.

Using the approach, the authors derive a number of conclusions about the effects of trade liberalization. First, that unilaterally liberalizing imports of manufactures can promote development of the local manufacturing industry. The mechanism is forward linkages from imported intermediates, but this may be interpreted as part of a wider package of linkages coming from these imports. Second, the gains from liberalization through PTA membership are likely to exceed those obtained from unilateral action. South-South PTAs will be sensitive to the market size of member states, and North-South PTAs seem to offer better prospects for participating Southern economies, if not for North and excluded countries. Third, the effects of particular schemes (such as the division of benefits between Southern economies) will depend on the characteristics of the countries and cross-country differences in these characteristics.

This paper - a product of the International Trade Division, International Economics Department - was prepared for the research project on regional integration.

JEL Classification: F10, O14

Suggested Citation

Puga, Diego and Venables, Anthony J., Trading Arrangements and Industrial Development (June 1997). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 1787; A1.199 WP 1787. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=46881

Diego Puga (Contact Author)

IMDEA Social Sciences ( email )

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Madrid, 28001
Spain

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada
416-978-4375 (Phone)
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HOME PAGE: http://dpuga.economics.utoronto.ca/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Anthony J. Venables

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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