United Nations Trade and Development Report

2225-3262 (online)
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The Trade and Development Report (TDR), launched in 1981, is issued every year for the annual session of the Trade and Development Board. The Report analyses current economic trends and major policy issues of international concern, and makes suggestions for addressing these issues at various levels.
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Trade and Development Report 1997

Trade and Development Report 1997

Globalization, Distribution and Growth You do not have access to this content

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31 Dec 1997
9789210603003 (PDF)

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This illuminating report sheds light on some of the pressing policy issues facing developing countries and the international community as a whole. It explores the interaction of trends in the international economy with the prospects of developing countries. The Report compares current economic performance with that of the preceeding year and examines future economic prospects at the regional and global level. This special report makes compelling reading for those seeking new knowledge and insights into the effects of globalization.

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  • Foreword

    The 1997 Trade and Development Report examines trends in the international economy with particular reference to developing countries, comparing current and past performances and assessing prospects for future development. It sheds light on the pressing policy issues facing developing countries and the wider international community.

  • Explanatory notes

    The classification of countries in this Report generally follows that of the UNCTAD Handbook of International Trade and Development Statistics 1994. It has been adopted solely for the purposes of statistical or analytical convenience and does not necessarily imply any judgement concerning the stage of development of a particular country or area. As noted in the Foreword to the Handbook, the classification differs from that used previously, in particular as regards regional and total aggregates for developing countries.

  • Abbreviations
  • Overview

    The world economy is continuing to grow slowly. Despite the success in reducing inflation almost everywhere, expectations of faster growth have not been fulfilled so far. Since the beginning of the decade, world output growth has averaged about 2 per cent, compared to the roughly 3 per cent attained during the turbulent years of the 1980s. Since the economic recovery that started in 1993, in no year has world output growth exceeded 3 per cent, 1996 included. The prospects are for a continuation of this slow growth.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Globalization, distribution and growth

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    • The issues at stake

      Since the late 1970s there has been a fundamental change in economic policy, first in the industrial countries, and then in the developing countries. In the latter this change has affected not only macroeconomic policy, but also development strategy. Emphasis has increasingly been placed on a minimal role for the State, greater reliance on private initiative and market forces, and increased openness and greater integration into the world economy. It was thought that such a reorientation of policy was needed not only to attain a stable macroeconomic environment, but also to accelerate growth and more generally to raise living standards. Price distortions due to government interventions and resistance to opening up were assumed to be responsible for slow growth, unequal income distribution and widespread poverty. Growth based on global market forces, it was thought, would thus be more rapid and widely shared, allowing developing countries to catch up with the industrial countries, and the poor with the rich.

    • Globalization and economic convergence

      The gap between the richest and the poorest countries in the world is vast. Average per capita income in the richest countries is some 50 times that in the poorest. The persistence of very low standards of living for much of the world’s population should be seen as among the most pressing challenges facing policymakers at both the domestic and the international level. Recent trends also suggest that it is not only those developing countries on the lowest rungs which are finding it difficult to raise living standards for the majority of their citizens. With the notable exception of the newly industrializing East Asian economies, growth in most developing countries slowed significantly in the late 1970s or early 1980s, often involving an absolute drop in per capita income. Although some countries have recovered quite strongly since the late 1980s, many have continued to experience slow and fragile growth which has further widened the gap between their average living standards and those of the richest countries.

    • Income inequality and development

      In recent years there has been increasing concern about trends in income distribution. This concern is rooted in fears that globalization and greater play of market forces are somehow accentuating inequalities at the national level. But against these fears, it has been suggested that integration into the world economy can actually resolve the apparent trade-off between growth and equity. In this respect the East Asian experience is often cited; in those countries rapid and sustained growth has supposedly been combined with low and declining inequality thanks to market-friendly, outward-oriented policies.

    • Liberalization, integration and distribution
    • Income distribution, capital accumulation and growth
    • Promoting investment: Some lessons from East Asia
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