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 institution.
IDS In Focus Issue 3.11, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 4 pp.