Bhagwati and Panagariya argue forcefully that only one strategy will help the poor to any significant effect: economic growth, led by markets overseen and encouraged by liberal state policies. Their radical message has huge consequences for economists, development NGOs and anti-poverty campaigners worldwide. There are vital lessons here not only for Southeast Asia, but for Africa, Eastern Europe, and anyone who cares that the effort to eradicate poverty is more than just good intentions. If you want it to work, you need growth. With all that implies.
This collection of recently published essays by a leading critic of regionalism offers an assessment of the economic impact of PTAs on member countries and the world. The first set of essays present a theoretical analysis of the issues using simple economic models, and study the relationship between regionalism and multilateralism. Subsequent essays evaluate the role of PTAs in Asia, North America and Latin America. The general theme of the book is that, on balance, trade liberalization through PTAs is a mistake. Trade diversion, and the creation of complicated and discriminatory tariff regimes with increased tariffs for non-member countries — the consequences of PTAs — are likely to undermine the multilateral trading system.
The book will be useful to academics as well as policy makers and policy analysts. Many of the essays have been featured in newspapers and journals such as the Financial Times, Economist, Journal of Commerce and International Herald Tribune. Some of these essays are already on many reading lists in the United States.
The first paper examines the services sector in India, evaluating its growth and future prospects. The second paper looks at India's corporate sector, analyzing the profitability of firms in the wake of liberalization. The third paper explores the reasons for the large time and cost overruns that have been endemic to Indian infrastructure projects. The final two papers focus on more political issues, looking at the impact of political reservations used to increase women's political voice, as well as the politics of intergovernmental resources transfers.
The volume would be useful to researchers and policy-makers in the fields of economics, policy studies, development studies, and political economy.