Recent Trade Liberalization in the Developing World: What is Behind It, and Where is it Headed?
This paper documents recent external sector liberalization in developing
countries, evaluates what is behind it, and assesses whether it is likely to
persist, accelerate or reverse itself. It draws heavily upon material
collected during a recent Ford Foundation-supported research project on
developing countries and the global trading system (see Whalley (1989))
covering eleven developing countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Costa Rica,
India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, The Philippines, Republic of Korea and
Tanzania). Many factors underlie these liberalizations. These include
rethinking of the basic approach towards trade policy in a number of countries,
with less commitment than earlier to import substitution and more interest in
outward-oriented development strategies. Conditionality in World Bank and IMF
lending programs appears important in Africa, and in some of the Asian and
Latin American countries. In some cases, sector-specific liberalization has
also been the result of bilateral pressure from the U.S. and the European
Community. Recent strong macro performance in the developed world has also
generated substantial growth in foreign exchange earnings for developing
countries, and facilitated this liberslization. The paper concludes by
suggesting that, in the short to medium term, some reciprocal actions by the
developed countries in the GATT Uruguay Round would help in keeping domestic
political support for these liberalizations alive.
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