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Convergence, trade and industrial policy: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in the international economy, 1900–1980*

Bértola, Luis and Gabriel Porcile ()
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Luis Bertola

Revista de Historia Económica / Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History, 2006, vol. 24, issue 1, 37-67

Abstract: This paper discusses the economic performance of three Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) from a comparative perspective, using as a benchmark a group of four developed countries (France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States). The focus is on the relative performance within the region and between the Latin American countries and the developed countries in the period 1900–1980. The paper argues that Argentina and Uruguay benefited from a privileged position in international markets at the beginning of the 20th century and this allowed them to converge. However, they failed to adjust to the major long-run change in the pattern of world trade brought about by World War I and the Great Depression, which implied a persistent decline of their export markets. On the other hand, Brazil, after having been much less successful until 1930, grew at higher rates thereafter based on rapid structural change and the building up of competitive advantages in new industrial sectors. The more vigorous Brazilian policy for industrialization and export diversification may explain why Brazil succeeded in changing its pattern of specialization, while Argentina and Uruguay were locked in to the old pattern. A typology of convergence regimes is suggested based on the growth experience of these countries.

Date: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cup:reveco:v:24:y:2006:i:01:p:37-67_00