Brazil's Trade Liberalization and Growth: Has it Failed?

Mar 2004
Unfulfilled expectations about economic growth in Brazil has led many observers to question the ability of the new, open trade regime to put the economy back on a path of sustainable growth. Whereas the country's growth record has been really poor, the evidence suggests that the underlying causes had nothing to do with trade. Quite the contrary. This paper shows that trade liberalization has given an important contribution to two of the main drivers of growth: productivity and investment in physical capital. It argues that these gains were not turned into growth due to an unfavorable macro and institutional environment. It also claims that Brazil could have enjoyed more gains from trade, had it pursued a more aggressive trade policy at home and abroad. The paper concludes by outlining the main issues of a pro-growth, trade policy agenda for the country.