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Economic Development in an Age of Great-Power Competition

While major economies plow money into high-tech sectors and impose tit-for-tat trade restrictions, most developing countries’ capacity to finance investment is limited, and they depend on access to global or regional markets to pursue comparative advantage. How can these countries boost competitiveness under these conditions?

HONG KONG – Now that the United States has introduced a new set of import tariffs on Chinese goods, the world’s two largest economies appear to be on the brink of open economic warfare – and developing countries are in danger of getting caught in the crossfire. Beyond the risk that they could face sanctions or other trade restrictions if one superpower perceives them to be helping the other, Sino-American trade tensions are eroding the value of many of these economies’ comparative advantages, such as cheap labor and land. Coping with these challenges will require skillful economic statecraft.