Regras para ajudar os países subdesenvolvidos

No seu excelente blogue sobre desenvolvimento económico, o economista William Easterly tem vindo a esclarecer um público alargado sobre alguns dos efeitos perversos que as ajudas internacionais podem provocar em países pobres. Por exemplo, desde os anos 60 que países africanos já receberam mais de 1 trilião de dólares em ajudas sem os efeitos que esperaríamos.

Num recente comentário, este menciona algumas regras para que as ajudas internacionais tenham mais sentido (inspiradas num qualquer livro de texto de comércio internacional). Aqui fica a transcrição das 5 regras:

  1. Don’t trade low value items with huge transport costs. No exporter or importer in their right mind would ship bulky low-value items large distances, which is why things like construction materials are often locally-sourced. Aid examples: Nobody wants your old shoes, 1 million shirts.
  2. Don’t send coals to Newcastle. Nobody exports food to a food-abundant region. Well nobody but US food aid, which ships food from Nebraska to the Horn of Africa, when there is plenty of food already in the region (it’s just badly distributed inside the region, which is what wise food aid could correct).
  3. Don’t do dumping; it is illegal. Exporters are not supposed to charge a much lower price abroad than they do domestically, driving local producers out of business – that’s called dumping, and it’s illegal under WTO rules. Wait, unless the dumper is USAID and it’s called food aid. Actually, US food aid violates all of these first three principles.
  4. Do export goods intensive in abundant resources; don’t export goods intensive in scarce resources. Many aid projects designed to promote poor country exports in a promising product violate this rule when they make the project dependent on the scarce and expensive resource called International Expertise. Small-scale handicraft projects heavily dependent on foreign experts are particularly gross violators.Actually, ANY aid project should be designed to maximize use of abundant resources and minimize use of scarce resources. This is one of the defects of the Millennium Village approach – it’s intensive in the use of expensive foreign expertise, and so is not scalable.
  5. The most gains from trade come when something is cheap in the exporting country and expensive in the importing country. Thank goodness the US does not try to grow its own bananas at some enormous expense, when they are cheaply bought from Central America and Colombia. Antibiotics can be cheaply made in rich countries but would be very expensive to produce in African countries, which is why aid projects that provide antibiotics cheaply make a lot of sense (actually private trade in antibiotics happens for the same reason, but doesn’t reach the poorest of the poor). Antiretroviral drugs, unfortunately, are expensive in the exporting country, so they are not as good an aid deal as antibiotics.

1) Don’t trade low value items with huge transport costs. No exporter or importer in their right mind would ship bulky low-value items large distances, which is why things like construction materials are often locally-sourced. Aid examples: Nobody wants your old shoes, 1 million shirts.

2) Don’t send coals to Newcastle. Nobody exports food to a food-abundant region. Well nobody but US food aid, which ships food from Nebraska to the Horn of Africa, when there is plenty of food already in the region (it’s just badly distributed inside the region, which is what wise food aid could correct).

3) Don’t do dumping; it is illegal. Exporters are not supposed to charge a much lower price abroad than they do domestically, driving local producers out of business – that’s called dumping, and it’s illegal under WTO rules. Wait, unless the dumper is USAID and it’s called food aid. Actually, US food aid violates all of these first three principles.

4) Do export goods intensive in abundant resources; don’t export goods intensive in scarce resources. Many aid projects designed to promote poor country exports in a promising product violate this rule when they make the project dependent on the scarce and expensive resource called International Expertise. Small-scale handicraft projects heavily dependent on foreign experts are particularly gross violators.

Actually, ANY aid project should be designed to maximize use of abundant resources and minimize use of scarce resources. This is one of the defects of the Millennium Village approach – it’s intensive in the use of expensive foreign expertise, and so is not scalable.

5) The most gains from trade come when something is cheap in the exporting country and expensive in the importing country. Thank goodness the US does not try to grow its own bananas at some enormous expense, when they are cheaply bought from Central America and Colombia. Antibiotics can be cheaply made in rich countries but would be very expensive to produce in African countries, which is why aid projects that provide antibiotics cheaply make a lot of sense (actually private trade in antibiotics happens for the same reason, but doesn’t reach the poorest of the poor). Antiretroviral drugs, unfortunately, are expensive in the exporting country, so they are not as good an aid deal as antibiotics.

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