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Global Development and Poverty Reduction

The Challenge for International Institutions

Edited by John-ren Chen and David Sapsford

At the beginning of the third millennium, underdevelopment and poverty continue to remain critical problems on a global scale. The purpose of this volume is to explore the various ways in which the institutions of the global economy might rise to the challenges posed by the twin goals of increasing the pace of global development and alleviating poverty.
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Chapter 7: WTO Membership: What Does it Do for Growth and Poverty?

David Sapsford, V.N. Balasubramanyam and Stephen Pfaffenzeller


David Sapsford, V.N. Balasubramanyam and Stephan Pfaffenzeller INTRODUCTION Surprisingly little, if indeed anything, is known about the economic benefits that have accrued to countries as a result of their membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO hereafter), or indeed membership of its predecessor the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). This is especially surprising given the enthusiasm and vigour with which numerous countries, including Taiwan, have recently sought membership to either or both of these multilateral organizations. Our objective in this chapter is to shed some light upon the magnitude of the economic benefits that actual and aspiring member countries might reasonably expect to receive as a consequence of their membership of the WTO. In order to achieve this objective we examine the historical evidence relating to the experiences of a sample of countries as a consequence of their earlier decision to participate in the system of multilateral tariff reduction through their participation in the GATT. Although our theme is concerned with the role of international institutions in the alleviation of poverty, this chapter directs its attention solely to the influence which membership exerts on economic growth performance, on the grounds that, if there is one thing that the wealth of available evidence tells us, it is that an improvement in growth performance is typically, if not invariably, a necessary (but by no means sufficient) prerequisite for progress in alleviation of poverty. In short, the present chapter focuses on what may be thought of as...

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