One of a series of 13 briefs exploring the strengths and weaknesses of
the policies advocated in Paul Collier's controversial and influential
book 'The Bottom Billion'.
In The Bottom Billion, Paul Collier stresses the importance of
increasing international trade and urges the poorest countries to
liberalise their trade regimes, in contrast to the position of many
civil society organisations and governments in developing countries. He
proposes providing new trade preferences for exports from Bottom Billion
nations to rich countries and a revamping of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) to deliver such preferences. His diagnoses are
compelling, but his proposals are not. Preferences have a poor track
record, and divert policy attention from other measures to improve
access to markets in developed countries such as investment in
infrastructure and harmonising standards. His proposal for expanding the
role of the WTO is likely to destabilise rather than strengthen the
IDS In Focus Issue 3.11, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 4 pp.