Almost all industrial countries have undergone strategies to maintain, or improve, competitiveness in order to improve the standard of living of their population, particularly during the last quarter-century or so. But how have they treated developing countries? Competitiveness and Development explains how developing countries can attain competitiveness at a high level of development, examines the possibilities and constraints in achieving it, and proposes remedial measures at the national and international levels. The author Mehdi Shafaeddin illustrates how developed countries impose restrictive policies on developing countries through international financial institutions and the WTO, as well as regional and bilateral agreements, thereby limiting their policy space for promoting dynamic comparative advantage in order to achieve competitiveness at a high level of development. Such policies, the author argues, lock developing countries that are at the early stages of development in specialization in primary commodities, or at best simple processing and assembly operations in accordance with their static comparative advantage.To support this argument, the author critically examines the neoclassical theory of economics, which is the philosophy behind the principle of static comparative advantage as well as the policy stances of international financial institutions and the WTO. The author also reviews the historical experience of developed countries through industrialization, development and achieving competitiveness based on the principle of dynamic comparative advantage. In this context, he explains the importance of trade and industrial policies and the role of government in human resource development, innovation and technological development. To illustrate his case, the author compares the contrasting experiences of China and Mexico since the 1980s, during which time globalization has been intensified.
Competitiveness and Development
Myth and Realities