THREE TYPES OF THEORY AND POLICY
Development economists, when they discuss the role played by international trade in a country’s economic development, tend to tell one of three types of story. The first and oldest is a happy story which shows how the welfare of both (and by easy extension, all) countries which engage in trade is increased, even when one country is absolutely very rich and the other is absolutely very poor. The second, of much more recent vintage, is a dull and detailed story about the way in which differences in economic structure between countries bias the gains from trade in favour of the rich, technologically advanced and industrialised economies and against the poor, low-technology agricultural economies. The third story, more recent still, is tragic. It asserts that trade and economic specialisation have actually caused the underdevelopment of the periphery of the world by the very same processes that have developed the capitalist metropolis. The unhappy ending of permanent global polarity could only be rewritten if the international capitalist system were to be superseded.