Rethinking Trade and Commercial Policy Theories
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Rethinking Trade and Commercial Policy Theories

Development Perspectives

P. Sai-wing Ho

This controversial book offers a unique approach to rethinking the trade and development literature and will therefore strongly appeal to researchers, academics, and students of trade and development as well as those involved in the history of economic thought.
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Chapter 12: Singer: Correcting Maldistribution of Gains from Progress by Tackling International Technological Dualism

P. Sai-wing Ho


12.1 INTRODUCTION It is described in Chapter 10 that Prebisch begins his 1950 'manifesto' with the provocative line, 'In Latin America, reality is undermining the out-dated schema of the international division of labour' (1950a, p. 1). In that same year, in his article in the AER that is titled 'The distribution of gains between investing and borrowing countries', Singer declares that, in the interest of the underdeveloped countries, of world national income, and perhaps ultimately of the industrialized countries themselves, the purposes of foreign investment and foreign trade ought perhaps to be redefined as producing gradual changes in the structure of comparative advantages and of the comparative endowment of the different countries rather than to develop a world trading system based on existing comparative advantages and existing distribution of endowments. (1950, p. 484) Both Prebisch and Singer, in these respective works, advanced the declining CIT thesis, giving rise to what is today commonly referred to as the PST. As indicated in Chapter 10, Prebisch's 'manifesto' triggered an onslaught by the economics mainstream. For being one of the two prime figures who advanced the PST, Singer was treated no differently.l Would it not be more fundamental to ask, as in Chapter 10, what analytical framework Singer himself employed, not merely in Singer (1950) but also in subsequent works? And has the fixation on the statistical aspect of the CIT debate distracted attention from other important messages for development promotion that he attempted to get across?2 The organisation of the rest...

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