Trade and Development Report 1981-2011

Three Decades of Thinking Development

image of Trade and Development Report 1981-2011

This publication identifies the key issues in the global economy and the design of development strategies addressed in the Trade and Development Report over the past three decades, tracing them through its various editions. It shows how ideas, opinions and proposals expressed in the Trade and Development Report, and the analytical approaches used, differed from those of “the mainstream” and their evolution in response to new challenges. This review revisits the concept of interdependence and explains the approach of the reports to macroeconomic and financial policies in both developed and developing countries. It also summarizes development policy failures and successes over the years.




The distinct perspective of the TDR on development issues has been, from the very outset, that of interdependence in two areas: interdependence of economic conditions and policies among countries, and interdependence among different areas of economic activity and spheres of economic policy. The Report to the First United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1964 had already formulated a strategy designed to promote economic development in the poorer countries through strong capital formation and expansion of exports, both traditional and non-traditional. Central to that agenda was the idea that developing countries could base economic development on their own efforts only if they had sufficient scope to accelerate capital formation and diversify their economic structure. This agenda also emphasized the interdependence between trade and finance, given that, particularly in the early stages of industrialization, imports would almost certainly grow faster than exports, and financing the gap would be key to accelerating growth (04:VII).


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