OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Changing Comparative Advantage in Thai Agriculture

Two key developments affected Thai agriculture in the last decade: the precipitous decline (until 1988) in world prices for the major agricultural items exported by Thailand, and the decline in the amount of cultivable land available for each agricultural worker.

During this same period the Thai economy has experienced a slowdown in the rate of growth of real GDP and an increase in the extent of poverty, the first time this has happened since statistics on poverty became available in 1963. As these economy-wide developments and the adverse changes specific to agriculture coincided, it came to be widely believed that the one is the cause of the other. This paper sets out to examine the validity of this belief, using an applied general equilibrium model (the THAM-2).

The simulations indicate that the effect of the agriculture-associated changes on the Thai economy can be quite substantial. Liberalization of rice alone will increase real GDP by 2 to 3 per cent. Had the world ...


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