Global Economic Prospects: Trade, Regionalism, and Development 2005

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Table 1. Slowdown of investment growth in the US, the threat of increase in oil and other commodity prices, the possibility of hardening of the interest rates by the central banks and projected lower growth in China are said to be the main reasons behind the expected deceleration of the world economy in the next couple of years. The report also expects that there will be less rapid expansion of trade in the next two year period.

Governing Global Trade - Finance & Development, December

However, in spite of these hurdles, the report says that the ''far-reaching structural reforms carried out in many countries'' and the efforts to reduce government deficits will enable developing countries to tide over the aforementioned obstacles and achieve a sustained per capita growth rate of 3. According to the GEP , if developing countries manage to sustain this level of growth, then the Millennium Development Goal MDG of reducing incidence of extreme poverty by 50 percent by is achievable in many developing countries.

It is notable here that the rate of growth required to achieve this goal is double the growth rate experienced by developing countries during the decade of s. As far as developed countries are concerned, strong growth is also expected in USA, Japan and Europe for the year In USA, the growth is mainly driven by a boom in investment and household consumption whereas in Europe and Japan, exports were the main source of growth.

Projections by GEP suggest that in the next two years, tight monetary policy followed by central banks in USA and Japan is likely to dampen growth in these two countries. Also factors like oil price hike, maturation of the investment cycle and tightening of fiscal stimulus are expected to slow down growth rates of USA and Japan.

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Europe, on the other hand, is expected to grow at a fast rate for the next two years. As far as international trade is concerned, GEP shows that high growth of developed and developing countries in has translated to high growth for world trade in the current year. The share of developing countries in world exports has increased from 19 percent in to 23 percent in However, most of this increase is due to the phenomenal increase of exports from China. Between and , more than 20 percent of the growth in world merchandise trade volumes was accounted for by China and as a result, China managed to double its share in world exports from 2.

The performance of developing countries in world trade becomes much more modest once the contribution of China is removed.

Bilateralism or Regionalism : Alternative Scenarios for Asian Trade Liberalization *

The forecast made about world trade in GEP indicates that there will be slowing down of merchandise trade in the year GEP has identified slowing down of China's trade and the unsustainable nature of US current account deficit as the possible dampening factors. The GEP apprehends that a failure to address the twin deficits of USA can lead to protectionist tendencies in USA which can translate into lower import demand for manufactured and agricultural goods arising out of that country.

Overall, the picture painted by GEP shows that the world economy has managed to bounce back from the downturn suffered in and but the year is a peak in the current upward cycle and according to the report, GDP growth rates of countries will move towards the long term trend in the following few years. Table 2 shows the actual and projected long term per capita GDP growth rates. Table 2. Such a high rate of growth will not be easy to achieve. As previously mentioned, the GEP itself points out a number of factors which can prevent rapid growth of developing countries in the longer run.

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The report recognizes these problems and to overcome these drawbacks, this report is banking on a few factors to push developing countries towards a higher growth trajectory. First and foremost is the role of anticipated structural changes in developing countries. The GEP expects that developing countries will go through a number of growth inducing structural changes between and According to this report, developing countries are expected to move away from their dependence on agriculture and diversify their economic activity during this period.

Closer integration of developing countries with the world economy is also likely to happen. GEP suggests that these factors will usher in structural changes in demography, alter the rural-urban composition of workforce, lead to sectoral and employment shifts, increase openness and improve income distribution in developing countries.

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Together these changes will propel the growth in these countries. Along with these factors, improvement in macroeconomic conditions like inflation and indebtedness and changes in the international trading environment are likely to help developing countries attain high levels of growth during the period However, this chain of logic is based on some very questionable assumptions.

It seems that the report puts a lot of emphasis on increased global integration of developing countries and in structural changes in these countries to attain high level of growth in medium terms. The experience of the last two decades has shown that increased trade and financial integration of developing countries has an ambiguous effect on growth rates of these countries. While some countries have gained from increased trade liberalization, many other countries have not been able to benefit from international trade.

For every successful country like China, there are many countries, like the ones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which have suffered from trade liberalization. Also, there is an emerging consensus among economists that the beneficial effects of financial liberalization and free movement of capital are quite ambiguous. Rodrik comments [2] : ''…persuasive evidence on the benefits of opening up to capital flows--especially of the portfolio and short-term kind--has yet to be provided'' Even some IMF economists, once the staunchest supporters of financial liberalization and foreign portfolio investment, are conceding that the so-called beneficial aspects of integration of financial markets have not been realized in practice.

It also needs to be remembered here that increased integration of developing countries with the world has not led to unequivocally positive structural change in all developing countries. In fact, integration with the global economy had significant negative impact in many developing countries. Trade and financial liberalization have not only threatened industrialization in some of these countries, but have also led to increased inequality in most countries across the world WIDER [4].

Wong, WP , October Miroudot, Lombaerde, De Ph. Low, P. Maskus, K. Mayday, A.

Global Economic Prospects 2005 : Trade, Regionalism and Development

Steinberg, Medvedev, D. Mikic, M. OECD, Pasadilla, G. Samaratunga, P.


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