Agriculture and the State: Growth, Employment, and Poverty in Developing Countries

By C. Peter Timmer | Go to book overview

3
The Role of Agricultural
Exports in Development

Alberto Valdés

The role of agricultural exports in development is to a large extent conditioned by the overall trade strategy of a particular country rather than by its agricultural strategy. Furthermore, while export prospects could be improved by a more liberal import policy on the part of the rich industrial countries, a developing country's domestic policies are of special significance if it is to take advantage of the opportunities offered by foreign trade to stimulate economic development. One of the lessons learned from the various trade strategies for the industrial sector since the 1960s is that they make a greater contribution to overall economic growth when export-oriented strategies are followed. Although we do not yet have a systematic empirical analysis of agriculture as we have for the industrial sector, agricultural export-led growth has real potential in a variety of settings.

The development strategies after World War II in most developing countries (LDCs) grossly undervalued the potential contribution of agriculture in general, and particularly of agricultural exports, to economic development. Governments and policy analysts in developing countries have now begun to reassess the potential contribution of agriculture as a strategic element of the development process. As part of this strategy, agricultural exports can play a critical role in stimulating agricultural growth, indirectly generating rural employment and hence alleviating poverty, in addition to contributing directly to foreign exchange earnings. The extraordinarily high taxation of the production of agricultural exportables in most devel

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