When does trade reduce poverty? Revisiting the evidence for East Asia

Author name: 
Jayant Menon
Anna Cassandra Melendez

East Asia’s openness to trade is often credited as one of the main drivers behind the region’s impressive gains in economic growth and poverty reduction. In this paper, we examine the literature to determine whether there is a sound theoretical and empirical basis for this presumed relationship between trade and poverty reduction. Like many other studies on this topic, we find that the linkages are not automatic; the impact of trade on poverty is highly context-specific, and many factors come into play. Complementary policies are necessary to maximise trade’s potential impact on poverty reduction. We also explore the role of Aid-for-Trade in addressing specific trade-related capacity constraints which prevent developing countries from maximising the benefits from trade.

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