Market Access For Developing Countries
Poor countries could boost growth and reduce poverty by expanding exports to the rich countries and to each other. But, despite the progress made in trade liberalization under successive multilateral agreements, many barriers persist in both developing and industrial countries.
Living standards in Korea, only 50 years ago a poor country dependent on foreign aid for half its national budget, have been catching up to those in the industrial countries. One of the reasons is a strong export sector that has fueled Koreas economic growth while evolving to keep up with changes in international demand.
Most developing countries, however, unlike Korea, have been unable to overcome the obstacles to expanding and diversifying their exports. The primary commodities on which many rely for export earnings have faced stagnant demand and been battered by volatile prices, and the two sectors in which developing countries have a strong comparative advantage?agriculture and labor-intensive manufactures, like textiles and clothing?are heavily protected not only in the industrial countries but in developing countries as well.
Most quantitative restrictions and other nontariff barriers have been converted into tariffs since the Uruguay Round of trade talks, improving the transparency of trade regimes. Protectionism has actually increased in some cases, however, and
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