“Rethinking Trade and Commercial Policy Theories: Development Perspectives ” by Peter Ho
University of Denver
Although it might have been eclipsed by the Great Recession, the globalisation debate has continued. The skeptics, or those who have strongly voiced caution, include Joseph Stiglitz, Dani Rodrik, Ha-Joon Chang, J. S. Komo, Robert Wade, among others. Through rethinking trade and commercial policy theories, this talk attempts to lend support to their cautions. It does so by re-examining the works of the classical economists to constitute an interpretation that is alternative to the standard story of comparative advantage and efficient competitive equilibrium attainable through free trade. Instead, free trade could trigger uneven development and a widening technological gap across countries. Foreign direct investment, if unregulated and not directed, could worsen such uneven development. This is not simply a situation that could be diagnosed by the standard commercial policy literature that typically compartmentalises market failures to determine the efficient correction for each market failure. In fact, those that have been labeled as 'protectionists' have much more nuanced considerations of trade and non-trade policies, as well as means of acquiring technological capabilities. All these issues are at the center of the trade and investment aspects of the globalisation debate, as witnessed in the different evaluations of the main agreements reached in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, and in considering how to proceed in the current Doha Round.