Conclusions and Recommendations
The main conclusion of this volume is that since the early 1980s the integration of the developing countries into the international trading system has been in many ways impressive, but also very uneven. A small number of countries, perhaps 15–20, have made giant strides, both in their institutional integration into the WTO system and in terms of their ratio of trade to GDP.
Most of the rest have struggled. By and large the ones that have struggled have been the poorest and the least developed. With few exceptions, for example China and India, the ones that have integrated most effectively have been the ones that started out with the highest incomes and most advanced institutional development. This increased integration is in part a result of the increased liberalization of trade regimes by both developed and developing countries during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, or for some developing countries, as a consequence of unilateral liberalization. It would have been impossible to achieve the large export growth rates of the 1990s if markets had not been becoming more open. Countries that have integrated more fully into the international economy have also tended to grow more rapidly.
The effect of these developments is greater polarization among developing countries. Those at the top of the income scale are achieving faster income and export growth than the developed countries, and as a consequence are converging to the level of development achieved by the latter. Others are being left behind. This uneven performance, amidst an environment of trade liberalization in both goods and services, has led many to argue that the latter is the cause of the former. And it has led to the conclusion that globalization is causing income levels to diverge and leading to the marginalization of the poor countries and people.