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Jagdish Bhagwati, the internationally renowned economist who uniquely combines a reputation as the leading scholar of international trade with a substantial presence in public policy on the important issues of the day, shines here a critical light on Preferential Trade Agreements, revealing how the rapid spread of PTAs endangers the world trading system. Numbering by now well over 300, and rapidly increasing, these preferential trade agreements, many taking the form of Free Trade Agreements, have re-created the unhappy situation of the 1930s, when world trade was undermined by discriminatory practices. Whereas this was the result of protectionism in those days, ironically it is a result of misdirected pursuit of free trade via PTAs today. The world trading system is at risk again, the author argues, and the danger is palpable. Writing with his customary wit, panache and elegance, Bhagwati documents the growth of these PTAs, the reasons for their proliferation, and their deplorable consequences which include the near-destruction of the non-discrimination which was at the heart of the postwar trade architecture and its replacement by what he has called the spaghetti bowl of a maze of preferences. Bhagwati also documents how PTAs have undermined the prospects for multilateral freeing of trade, serving as stumbling blocks, instead of building blocks, for the objective of reaching multilateral free trade. In short, Bhagwati cogently demonstrates why PTAs are Termites in the Trading System.
When India embraced systematic economic reforms in 1991 and began opening its economy to both domestic and foreign competition, critics argued that they had contributed little to the acceleration of economic growth. Their argument had rested on the claim that growth in the 1990s was no faster than in the 1980s. This claim was quickly refuted on the grounds that when properly evaluated, growth had indeed accelerated in the 1990s and more importantly, while reforms had been made systematic in 1991, they had actually begun much earlier in the late 1970s. Subsequently, the reforms of the late 1990s and early 2000s have led to a jump in the growth rate from six percent in the 1990s to eight to nine percent beginning in 2003. The reforms have also led to a major structural change in the economy: the trade to GDP ratio has tripled since 1991, there has been a gigantic expansion of foreign investment in India, and sectors such as telecommunications, airlines, and automobiles have expanded at rates much higher than at any time in the past. This dramatic turnaround has led critics to shift ground. They now argue that opening the economy to trade has hurt the poor; that rapid growth is leaving socially disadvantaged groups behind; and that reforms have led to increased inequality. The essays in this volume take these challenges head-on. They use large-scale sample surveys and other data to systematically address each of the arguments. India's Reforms is the first volume in the series Studies in Indian Economic Policies, edited by Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya and published by OUP. It contains the first set of five original papers produced under the auspices of the Columbia Program on Indian Economic Policies housed in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP).
Reforms and Economic Transformation in India is the second volume in the series Studies in Indian Economic Policies. The first volume, India's Reforms: How They Produced Inclusive Growth (OUP, 2012), systematically demonstrated that reforms-led growth in India led to reduced poverty among all social groups. They also led to shifts in attitudes whereby citizens overwhelmingly acknowledge the benefits that accelerated growth has brought them and as voters, they now reward the governments that deliver superior economic outcomes and punish those that fail to do so. This latest volume takes as its starting point the fact that while reforms have undoubtedly delivered in terms of poverty reduction and associated social objectives, the impact has not been as substantial as seen in other reform-oriented economies such as South Korea and Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently, in China. The overarching hypothesis of the volume is that the smaller reduction in poverty has been the result of slower transformation of the economy from a primarily agrarian to a modern, industrial one. Even as the GDP share of agriculture has seen rapid decline, its employment share has declined very gradually. More than half of the workforce in India still remains in agriculture. In addition, non-farm workers are overwhelmingly in the informal sector. Against this background, the nine original essays by eminent economists pursue three broad themes using firm level data in both industry and services. The papers in part I ask why the transformation in India has been slow in terms of the movement of workers out of agriculture, into industry and services, and from informal to formal employment. They address what India needs to do to speed up this transformation. They specifically show that severe labor-market distortions and policy bias against large firms has been a key factor behind the slow transformation. The papers in part II analyze the transformation that reforms have brought about within and across enterprises. For example, they investigate the impact of privatization on enterprise profitability. Part III addresses the manner in which the reforms have helped promote social transformation. Here the papers analyze the impact the reforms have had on the fortunes of the socially disadvantaged groups in terms of wage and education outcomes and as entrepreneurs.
Jagdish Bhagwati, the internationally renowned economist who uniquely combines a reputation as the leading scholar of international trade with a substantial presence in public policy on the important issues of the day, shines here a critical light on Preferential Trade Agreements, revealing how the rapid spread of PTAs endangers the world trading system. Numbering by now well over 300, and rapidly increasing, these preferential trade agreements, many taking the form of Free Trade Agreements, have re-created the unhappy situation of the 1930s, when world trade was undermined by discriminatory practices. Whereas this was the result of protectionism in those days, ironically it is a result of misdirected pursuit of free trade via PTAs today. The world trading system is at risk again, the author argues, and the danger is palpable. Writing with his customary wit, panache and elegance, Bhagwati documents the growth of these PTAs, the reasons for their proliferation, and their deplorable consequences which include the near-destruction of the non-discrimination which was at the heart of the postwar trade architecture and its replacement by what he has called the spaghetti bowl of a maze of preferences. Bhagwati also documents how PTAs have undermined the prospects for multilateral freeing of trade, serving as stumbling blocks, instead of building blocks, for the objective of reaching multilateral free trade. In short, Bhagwati cogently demonstrates why PTAs are Termites in the Trading System.
Reforms and Economic Transformation in India is the second volume in the series Studies in Indian Economic Policies. The first volume, India's Reforms: How They Produced Inclusive Growth (OUP, 2012), systematically demonstrated that reforms-led growth in India led to reduced poverty among all social groups. They also led to shifts in attitudes whereby citizens overwhelmingly acknowledge the benefits that accelerated growth has brought them and as voters, they now reward the governments that deliver superior economic outcomes and punish those that fail to do so. This latest volume takes as its starting point the fact that while reforms have undoubtedly delivered in terms of poverty reduction and associated social objectives, the impact has not been as substantial as seen in other reform-oriented economies such as South Korea and Taiwan in the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently, in China. The overarching hypothesis of the volume is that the smaller reduction in poverty has been the result of slower transformation of the economy from a primarily agrarian to a modern, industrial one. Even as the GDP share of agriculture has seen rapid decline, its employment share has declined very gradually. More than half of the workforce in India still remains in agriculture. In addition, non-farm workers are overwhelmingly in the informal sector. Against this background, the nine original essays by eminent economists pursue three broad themes using firm level data in both industry and services. The papers in part I ask why the transformation in India has been slow in terms of the movement of workers out of agriculture, into industry and services, and from informal to formal employment. They address what India needs to do to speed up this transformation. They specifically show that severe labor-market distortions and policy bias against large firms has been a key factor behind the slow transformation. The papers in part II analyze the transformation that reforms have brought about within and across enterprises. For example, they investigate the impact of privatization on enterprise profitability. Part III addresses the manner in which the reforms have helped promote social transformation. Here the papers analyze the impact the reforms have had on the fortunes of the socially disadvantaged groups in terms of wage and education outcomes and as entrepreneurs.
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