President Trump and his ultra-rich government have crudely appropriated some old ideas from progressive development economists. Of course, they don’t realize the clumsiness of their protectionist approach or its provenance. Progressive economists are not against free trade, but they recognize when there is exchange between two unequal nations, the weak one needs some form of protection against the powerful nation. For example, let’s assume Guyana still produced those very durable GRL refrigerators and wonderful gas stoves, do you believe they could have competed against cheap inferior Turkish and Chinese ones without some form of protection?
That is why progressive development economists have always recognized the right of weak countries to protect certain strategic manufacturing industries. As a matter of fact, during my CAPORDE days (Cambridge Advanced Programme for Rethinking Development Economics), Ha-Joon Chang once told me it is better to have an inefficient manufacturing sector than none at all. Ha-Joon and others understand the importance of having certain essential spill-over effects from manufacturing that commodity extraction and service-based industries will not provide…..