Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People
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Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People

Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment

Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards

While some argue that trade liberalization has raised incomes and led to environmental protection in developing countries, others claim that it generates neither poverty reduction nor sustainability. The detailed case studies in this book demonstrate that neither interpretation is universally correct, given how much depends on specific policies and institutions that determine ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes. Drawing on research from six countries around the developing world, the book also presents the unique perspectives of researchers at both the world’s largest development organization (The World Bank) and the world’s largest conservation organization (World Wildlife Fund) on the debate over trade liberalization and its effects on poverty and the environment.
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Chapter 9: Lessons from the Case Studies: 2

John D. Nash and Donald F. Larson


John D. Nash and Donald F. Larson INTRODUCTION The lowering of trade barriers is a visible point of policy change that is often associated with broader changes in the economy and a deeper set of policy reforms. In general, poor countries undertake trade reform because it carries the potential to lessen poverty through the increased opportunities that come with open markets and economic growth. Even so, when changes in trade policy have impact, they are likely to enhance the value of some activities and diminish the value of others. This, in turn, can have important consequences for how natural resources are used and the livelihoods of the poor. For this reason, trade policies and trade agreements are controversial and have rightly received a good deal of attention from policy makers, advocates, scientists and social scientists. As discussed in Chapter 1, the scale of research devoted to the topic across a range of disciplines is large. At the same time, outcomes from trade reforms are varied, and practical lessons found in the literature are elusive. Collectively, evidence put forward by advocates in support of particular policies often seems inconsistent and contradictory. With this as background, the studies in this volume are motivated by a desire to move the debate forward by bringing together a set of accessible, tangible examples of the relationships between global markets, local economic activity and local ecology. The studies in this volume suggest that the reason why generalizations about how trade, poverty and the environment relate are...

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