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Free Trade and Inclusive Development

By Suranjana Nabar-Bhaduri

One of the central elements in the development of any country is the creation of economic activities that transform the production structure by significantly increasing labor productivity, or the amount of production per worker. By helping to absorb more people into quality employment, the creation of such activities helps to generate a more inclusive and sustainable path of long-run economic growth. While economists and policy-makers accept the necessity of this transformation, there are differing views on the policies that developing countries should follow to achieve this transformation.

Many Western countries and institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, argue that minimizing the role of the State in economic activity, and opening up the economy to external markets is vital to achieving this transformation. But other economists (e.g., Prebisch 1959, Cimoli and Correa 2002, and Ocampo 2005) stress that active industrial and employment generation policies are also essential ingredients for this transformation, and that it is necessary to complement liberalization with such policies.

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