Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment
Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards
Chapter 3: The Impacts of Trade Liberalization in Pingbian, China
3. The impacts of trade liberalization in Pingbian, China He Daming and Liu Jiang, with Bobby Cochran When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it was already the leading producer and consumer of agricultural products in the world. Accession to the WTO followed as part of a successful long-term effort to modernize, liberalize and increase Chinese participation in the global marketplace. With its reserves of labor, natural resources and growing industrial and manufacturing capacity, China was poised to be a winner in global markets. Per capita incomes have already increased by 46 percent since the year 2000. The benefits of trade, however, accrue neither to everyone nor to all parts of China equally. People living in the isolated mountain regions of the western (inland) provinces, many of whom are ethnic minorities and who live by farming some of the country’s most environmentally fragile landscapes, were not expected to benefit from the liberalized trade regime. However, through its indirect impacts, the rapid growth of trade has brought new opportunities to even the most remote regions of China. This study looks at the case of Pingbian County, located in Yunnan Province along China’s southern border with Vietnam. In communities like Pingbian throughout China and the developing world, economies are shifting from subsistence farming to export-led, cash crop agriculture. Labor is shifting from farm to nonfarm work. And local governments and people are struggling to anticipate and capitalize on the potential they see in expanding markets. This study used household...
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