Why Did Trade Liberalization Work for East Asia but Fail in Latin America?

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

Published in Challenge, 2019, 62(4): 273-277.

In the 1980s, while the East Asian countries continued to grow, the Latin American countries stopped in the 1980s, and since then are falling behind. The cause was not the "middle-income trap", but the "liberalization trap". Differently from the East Asian, the Latin American countries suffer the Dutch disease, but were able to industrialize because they used high import tariffs on manufactured goods to neutralize this long-term overvaluation of the exchange rate. In the 1980s, however, trade liberalization dismounted this mechanism. The ensuing competitive disadvantage produced deindustrialization and low growth.


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