Trade and Growth

Achieving economic growth requires countries to reach out to other markets through trade. Yet many developing countries face significant internal and external barriers to trade, and typically have exports that are highly-concentrated in natural resources and low-skill manufacturing products.

Ships arriving into Lagos's Apapa and Tin Can ports pass by locals enjoying a weekend at the beach. Credit: Jacob Silberberg / Panos

IDS research on trade and growth aims to assist developing countries in understanding the impact of trade policy. Our work seeks to understand how to design trade strategies that are more conducive to economic growth and development.

We work on areas including:

  • Export diversification – seeking to understand how firms can export a more diverse range of products. Find out more about our work on export diversification.
  • Trade preferences – exploring the impact of regional integration and unilateral preferences on developing countries.
  • South-South trade – understanding the impact of trade between countries in the global South, and how this can be expanded.
  • Regulations, standards and trade – assessing the impact of food safety, plant and animal health and other technical requirements on exports from developing countries.
  • Effectiveness of trade-related technical assistance – identifying ways in which the effectiveness of technical assistance, aimed at enhancing the export performance of developing countries, can be improved.
  • Food price volatility – exploring how fluctuations in world market food prices are transmitted to local markets in developing countries. Find out more about our work on food price volatility.

Achieving economic growth requires countries to reach out to other markets through trade. Yet many developing countries face significant internal and external barriers to trade, and typically have exports that are highly-concentrated in natural resources and low-skill manufacturing products.

 

IDS research on trade and growth aims to assist developing countries in understanding the impact of trade policy. Our work seeks to understand how to design trade strategies that are more conducive to economic growth and development.

 

We work on areas including:

 

  • Export diversification – seeking to understand how firms can export a more diverse range of products. 
  • Trade preferences – exploring the impact of regional integration and unilateral preferences on developing countries. 
  • South-South trade – understanding the impact of trade between countries in the global South, and how this can be expanded. 
  • Regulations, standards and trade – assessing the impact of food safety, plant and animal health and other technical requirements on exports from developing countries.
  • Effectiveness of trade-related technical assistance – identifying ways in which the effectiveness of technical assistance, aimed at enhancing the export performance of developing countries, can be improved.
Food price volatility – exploring how fluctuations in world market food prices are transmitted to local markets in developing countries.

Business Innovation Facility

The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) aims to catalyse market systems change in order to benefit poor producers, consumers and employees More details

China-UK Cooperation on African Trade and Investment for Poverty Reduction

This IDS led project aims to evaluate changing trade and investment relations between China, and also the UK, with Kenya and South Africa and the consequences of these changes. More details

Data Systems and Economywide Modeling to Support Policy Analysis in Ethiopia

This project aims to create and strengthen analytical and practical capacity of policy analysis in Ethiopia and to support the government in its endeavours to meet the challenges of the MDGs. More details

Economic Integration and External Shocks: Modeling Outcomes for India

Studying the impact of trade policy changes and other changes in the international economic environment. More details

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) Review

A general review of the negotiating process and costs of EPAs and their impact on development. More details

Firm Behaviour and the Introduction of New Products: Evidence using a Firm Micro Data Set in Brazil

The objective of this research is to contribute to the understanding of one of the most important processes required for achieving sustained economic growth in emerging and developing countries: the process of product and export diversification. More details

Research on the Poverty Impact of Market and Enabling Business Environment Programmes in Kenya

To what extent does private sector development work in Kenya contribute to a reduction in poverty and inequality? This review aims to assess the evidence base for DFID Kenya’s Wealth Creation Pillar programming. More details

The Impact of the Crisis on World Prices and Trade

This project used a global trade model to gauge the impact of a slowdown in economic activity in the OECD on trade performance, world prices and aggregate welfare in the rest of the world. More details

View all Research Theme's publications

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image for non-ids publications

The Political Economy of Sugar in Southern Africa: Introduction

Journal of Southern African Studies (2016)

In this introductory paper we review historic and contemporary development of sugar cane production across the southern Africa. We argue that the region’s sugar industry provides a useful lens through which to understand current dynamics of corporate capital and agricultural production in Africa. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Politics of Sustainability and Development, Annual Review of Environment and Resources

Annual Review of Environment and Resources 41 (2016)

This review examines the relationships between politics, sustainability, and development. Following an overview of sustainability thinking across different traditions, the politics of resources and the influence of scarcity narratives on research, policy and practice are explored. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Logistics Performance and Trade: an Analysis of India’s Trade in Intermediates with Bangladesh and Thailand.

In this study, the objective is to empirically explore the role of logistics in enhancing production linkages through trade in intermediate products. Two case studies of trade in intermediate goods are undertaken: (i) India’s export of textile yarn to Bangladesh; and (ii) India’s import of air conditioning equipment from Thailand. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Book Review: Ajitava Raychaudhuri and Prabir De. 2012. International Trade in Services in India: Implications for Growth and Inequality in a Globalising World

Journal of South Asian Development 8.2 (2013)

Ajitava Raychaudhuri and Prabir De have compiled a relevant collection on the growing importance of services trade for India and its implications to economic growth and inequality. The book consists of 12 chapters that provide an in-depth discussion of trends in services trade in the aggregate and the sectoral dimensions across higher education, health and transportation services in India. The overarching theme of the book is that the removal of barriers to services trade is welfare-enhancing. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 4, 'What is Business and Development? An Annotated Bibliography'

What is Business and Development? An Annotated Bibliography

IDS Evidence Report 4 (2013)

This annotated bibliography provides an exhaustive collection of resources on the topic of Business and Development. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Determinants of Outward Processing: Evidence from Offshoring Intermediates by the European Union

This paper analyses the determinants of outward processing (OP) trade; specifically, imports of intermediates subsequent to processing abroad. More details

IDS publications on international development research

General Equilibrium Analysis of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite FTA

This is the report following an impact analysis to determine potential economy-wide impacts of what will be Africa's largest free trade agreement. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Trade and Development – A Forgotten Issue?

The UN system has invited international organisations, governments and local government bodies, academic institutions and think tanks, civil society organisations, the private sector, trade unions, foundations, religious groups, individuals to offer their ideas and views on the next development agenda. More details

This is the image for IDS Practice Paper 9, 'Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business'.

Measuring the Inclusivity of Inclusive Business

IDS Practice Paper 9 (2012)

‘Inclusive Business’ has enormous potential to contribute positively to development outcomes. Working through core business models, the ‘Inclusive Business’ approach requires minimal outside support and can often reach a scale unattainable by most direct development interventions. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

Achieving Export Diversification: Lessons from Brazil

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 21 (2012)

Achieving export diversification has been a central objective of development policy for the last 50 years, yet many developing countries struggle to achieve it. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 390, 'Firm Behaviour and the Introduction of New Exports: Evidence from Brazil'.

Firm Behaviour and the Introduction of New Exports: Evidence from Brazil

IDS Working Paper 390 (2012)

This paper contributes to understanding the process of export diversification by analysing firm level determinants in Brazil during the period 2000–2009. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

Integrating Business and Development Impact

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 19 (2011)

Businesses are increasingly setting up programmes to engage with international development. Development agencies are also seeking to mobilise businesses’ knowledge and resources to achieve development goals. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Trade Finance in Africa: A Survey of Firms

This chapter provides some evidence about whether export-oriented garment production and high-value export horticulture in Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced problems in obtaining trade finance. More details

IDS Research Summary

The Last Golden Land? Chinese Private Companies Go to Africa

IDS Research Summary of IDS Working Paper 365 (2011)

The widely-held perception of Chinese investment in Africa is that of large state-owned enterprises in search of natural resources. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Pruning India's Sensitive Lists under SAFTA: A Comment

Economic & Political Weekly 46.16 (2011)

This article extends the economic rationale to prune India’s sensitive lists under the South Asian FTA as discussed in Taneja et al (2011), supplemented by additional reasons to develop well-functioning global production networks. The framework discussed here can be used for other SAARC nations as well. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Sustainability and Resilience of Global Water and Food Systems: A Political Analysis of the Interplay Between Security, Resource Scarcity, Political Systems and Global Trade

Food Policy 36.S1 (2011)

In this paper the example of cocoa production in Ghana is used to explore how the narratives portraying African farmers have changed over the last 70 years. These evolving narratives are explored through the notion of a 'good farmer'. More details

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