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Monday, August 06, 2012

Dynamic Comparative Advantage

Joseph Stiglitz on how African countries can (and should) use their newfound resource wealth to shape their long-run comparative advantage:

From Resource Curse to Blessing, by Joseph Stiglitz, Commentary, Project Syndicate: New discoveries of natural resources in several African countries ... raise an important question: Will these windfalls be a blessing that brings prosperity and hope, or a political and economic curse, as has been the case in so many countries? ...
[T]hese countries must do more to ensure that their citizens get the full value of the resources..., the money gained through natural resources must be used to promote development. The old colonial powers regarded Africa simply as a place from which to extract resources. Some of the new purchasers have a similar attitude.
Infrastructure (roads, railroads, and ports) has been built with one goal in mind: getting the resources out of the country at as low a price as possible, with no effort to process the resources in the country, let alone to develop local industries based on them.
Real development requires exploring all possible linkages: training local workers, developing small and medium-size enterprises to provide inputs for mining operations and oil and gas companies, domestic processing, and integrating the natural resources into the country’s economic structure. Of course, today, these countries may not have a comparative advantage in many of these activities, and some will argue that countries should stick to their strengths. From this perspective, these countries’ comparative advantage is having other countries exploit their resources.
That is wrong. What matters is dynamic comparative advantage, or comparative advantage in the long run, which can be shaped. Forty years ago, South Korea had a comparative advantage in growing rice. Had it stuck to that strength, it would not be the industrial giant that it is today. It might be the world’s most efficient rice grower, but it would still be poor. ...

    Posted by on Monday, August 6, 2012 at 02:08 PM in Development, Economics | Permalink  Comments (22)


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