Por que nações em desenvolvimento devem adotar proteções alfandegárias?

Fonte: The Guardian.

A look at Vietnam and Mexico exposes the myth of market liberalisation

Larry Elliott, economics editor
Monday December 12, 2005
The Guardian


The Harvard economist Dani Rodrik is one trade sceptic. Take Mexico and Vietnam, he says. One has a long border with the richest country in the world and has had a free-trade agreement with its neighbour across the Rio Grande. It receives oodles of inward investment and sends its workers across the border in droves. It is fully plugged in to the global economy. The other was the subject of a US trade embargo until 1994 and suffered from trade restrictions for years after that. Unlike Mexico, Vietnam is not even a member of the WTO.

So which of the two has the better recent economic record? The question should be a no-brainer if all the free-trade theories are right - Mexico should be streets ahead of Vietnam. In fact, the opposite is true. Since Mexico signed the Nafta (North American Free Trade Agreement) deal with the US and Canada in 1992, its annual per capita growth rate has barely been above 1%. Vietnam has grown by around 5% a year for the past two decades. Poverty in Vietnam has come down dramatically: real wages in Mexico have fallen.

Rodrik doesn't buy the argument that the key to rapid development for poor countries is their willingness to liberalise trade. Nor, for that matter, does he think boosting aid makes much difference either. Looking around the world, he looks in vain for the success stories of three decades of neo-liberal orthodoxy: nations that have really made it after taking the advice - willingly or not - of the IMF and the World Bank.

Rather, the countries that have achieved rapid economic take-off in the past 50 years have done so as a result of policies tailored to their own domestic needs. Vietnam shows that what you do at home is far more important than access to foreign markets. There is little evidence that trade barriers are an impediment to growth for those countries following the right domestic policies.

Those policies have often been the diametric opposite of the orthodoxy. South Korea and Taiwan focused their economies on exports, but combined that outward orientation with high levels of tariffs and other forms of protection, state ownership, domestic-content requirements for industry, directed credit and limits to capital flows.

Rodrik says: "Since the late 1970s, China also followed a highly unorthodox two-track strategy, violating practically every rule in the guidebook. Conversely, countries that adhered more strictly to the orthodox structural reform agenda - most notably Latin America - have fared less well. Since the mid-1980s, virtually all Latin American countries opened up their economies, privatised their public enterprises, allowed unrestricted access for foreign capital and deregulated their economies. Yet they have grown at a fraction of the pace of the heterodox reformers, while also being buffeted more strongly by macroeconomic instability."

This is an argument taken up by Ha Joon Chang in a recent paper for the South Centre, the developing countries' intergovernmental forum. Chang argues that "there is a respectable historical case for tariff protection for industries that are not yet profitable, especially in developing countries. By contrast, free trade works well only in the fantasy theoretical world of perfect competition."

Going right back to the mid-18th century, Chang says Pitt the Elder's view was that the American colonists were not to be allowed to manufacture so much as a horseshoe nail. Adam Smith agreed. It would be better all round if the Americans concentrated on agricultural goods and left manufacturing to Britain.

Alexander Hamilton, the first US Treasury secretary, dissented from this view. In a package presented to Congress in 1791, he proposed measures to protect America's infant industries. America went with Hamilton rather than Smith. For the next century and a half, the US economy grew behind high tariff walls, with an industrial tariff that tended to be above 40% and rarely slipped below 25%. This level of support is far higher than the US is prepared to tolerate in the trade negotiations now under way.


Why Developing Countries Need Tariffs?


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