The World Trade Organisation Opportunities and Threats

Free trade and developing economies

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Free trade and developing economies

Critics often claim that the philosophy of free trade is one always advocated by the economically powerful as they have the most to gain from its implementation. The economically weak, forced to open their markets, are simply exploited by their more competitive rivals and restricted from developing their own independent economic and technological base. In this case, free trade is certainly not fair trade.

Even though there is likely to be more than an element of truth in this claim, evidence clearly reveals that more liberal open economies have developed faster than those that have restricted trade and pursued policies of import substitution. The increasing number of developing countries seeking WTO membership implies that these countries clearly see that their future economic success rests with an open-market, free-trading, global economy.

Of the world’s 25 largest trading countries today, a third are developing countries. As a whole, developing countries account for a quarter of world trade, compared to a fifth just 12 years ago.

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