Trade and agricultural development in the 1980s and the challenges for the 1990s: Asia uri icon


  • Asian developing countries have had varying experiences in trade and agricultural development in the 1980s, attributable in part to their differing stages of economic development and structural characteristics. Other important influences relate to the external economic environment and the policy choices made by their governments not only during the period but also in the preceding decade.
  • Despite the external trend recently toward regionalism, Asian developing countries generally seem committed to an open trading system, on which in fact their past impressive economic performance has been predicated. An important challenge for them in the 1990s is to play an active role in arresting and reversing any protectionist tendencies arising from the formation of regional trading blocs and to support multilateral initiatives such as the Uruguay Round that promote global trade liberalization.
  • The achievements of Asian developing countries under the adverse external conditions of the 1980s are discussed in terms of their macroeconomic and agricultural growth, the commodity structure of agricultural growth, their food production and trade, the expansion and diversification of their agricultural exports, and the policy and nonpolicy factors affecting them. Special attention is given to the role of policy reforms implemented in China and the South Asian countries, following similar policy developments in Northeast and Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, toward greater openness in their trade regime and increased private-sector participation in the economy. These reforms have contributed to the observed acceleration in GDP, agricultural, and export growth in the 1980s. However, macroeconomic imbalances have emerged that threaten the sustainability of economic liberalization in those countries.
  • The major challenges for the 1990s also differ among the Asian developing countries- In the industrially advanced Northeast economies of Taiwan and South Korea, the primary need is to ease the transition of the remaining rural population as farm incomes continue to fall and workers move to industrial and service activities. This challenge has to be addressed in the context of growing external pressure to further open their domestic market for agricultural imports. Among the Southeast and South Asian countries, there is a need to reduce the existing policy biases against agriculture, particularly against export crop production. Moreover, China and the South Asian countries face the additional challenges of continuing to deregulate their trade regime and internal markets, and of promoting macroeconomic stability.

publication date

  • 1993
  • 1993