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Trade, Technology & Productivity

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Trade, Technology and ProductivityMost middle income countries and even some least developed economies maintain policies to stimulate private sector investments in innovation. These policies include the strengthening of intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly since the implementation of the Uruguay Round’s agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights in 1995. This development has evolved into a global debate over the merits of IPRs for spurring development, pitting developing economies that do not want to pay higher prices for innovations from the industrialized economies against advanced country interests. This debate has been carried out with relatively little empirical evidence concerning both the determinants of innovation in general and on the particular consequences of IPR reforms in developing economies.

DECTI’s program consequently addressed both sets of issues. On the one hand, we have attempted to understand the sources of productivity improvements with special attention given to the role of international integration and competition. We are examining how domestic policies and institutions affect productivity and the absorptive capacity of firms in developing countries. It is worth noting that innovation in developing countries is not only about patents, technology and R&D - it is also about product innovation and diversification. On the other hand, we have begun to examine the debate over IPRs by studying how they interact with human capital and yield improvements in innovation investment and by exploring their effects on prices, particularly those of medicines.  




October 17,  2010 - FDI in Southern Africa: Microeconomic Consequences and Macro Causes - Foreign direct investment has been an important component in development success stories around the world.





  • It is undeniable that the global debate on IPRs has turned into a debate about ethics, because of the presumed effect that IPRs have on prices of essential medicines. Thus we also commissioned a novel study by Jorn Sonderholm reviewing the ethical issues raised in this debate - see list of working papers below.

  • Can developing countries become innovators over time through education and human capital accumulation? Not quite; intellectual property rights might be required for education to raise the incidence of research and development expenditures over Gross Domestic Product. Please see the new working paper by Claudio Bravo-Ortega and Daniel Lederman.

  • Did the growth of Chinese exports to the United States affect the variety of Mexico's exports? This is an important question because product variety has been associated with productivity improvements. See the chapter by Robert Feenstra and H.L. Kee in edited volume titled China's and India's Challenge to Latin America.

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Working Papers 

  • Complete list of Working Papers in located in the Library at the bottom of the page.

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Additional Resources

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WPS6452Micro dynamics of Turkey's export boom in the 2000sCebeci, Tolga; Fernandes, Ana M.2013/05
WPS6432Services linkages and the value added content of tradeFrancois, Joseph; Manchin, Miriam; Tomberger, Patrick2013/05
WPS6398Chinese firms' entry to export markets : the role of foreign export spilloversMayneris, Florian; Poncet, Sandra2013/04
WPS6424Potential and actual FDI spillovers in global value chains : the role of foreign investor characteristics, absorptive capacity and transmission channelsWinkler, Deborah2013/04
WPS6349Service sector reform and manufacturing productivity : evidence from IndonesiaDuggan, Victor; Rahardja, Sjamsu; Varela, Gonzalo2013/01

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