Transforming Economies

ILO, UNCTAD: Catch up countries need industry policy

Countries keen to close the development gap with inclusive and job rich growth must embrace comprehensive industry policy if they are to succeed. So concludes a new economic publication launched Wednesday by the Director-Generals of the ILO and UNCTAD.

Audio | 04 June 2014
The book, "Transforming Economies", subtitle, "Making Industrial Policy Work for Growth, Jobs and Development", presents eight case studies of countries across the development spectrum, from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States.

According to the authors the clear implication from those studies is that industrial policy has an essential role in successful development, a theme taken up by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, in opening comments:

"I welcome the messages of this book: that the connection between economic upgrading and social upgrading is not automatic; that corporate social responsibility initiatives are not enough on their own; that there is a strong role for public policy to apply relevant norms and standards, both labour and environmental; and that all of this should be seen as a part of modern industrial policy."

Speaking at the launch, a side event held during the International Labour Conference, Irmgard Nübler, ILO senior economist and one of the editors of the book, presented the central conundrum of development that underlay the study:

"One of the most interesting questions in development economics is: what enabled some countries to achieve high performance and job intensive transformation and growth patterns and to generate a high dynamics in the catching up process, while others could not achieve such processes."

At least part of the answer, according to ILO Assistant Director-General for Policy and editor, José Salazar-Xirinachs, comes from tracing the role of government in those high performing economies:

"You can discuss which policies are superior, which are better, but definitely all successful catching up countries in Asia, also in Latin America and so on, have had a very important role for the state."

"Transforming Economies" incorporates the work of 26 researchers on four continents. Editor and head of UNCTAD's Unit on Economic Integration, Richard Kozul-Wright, explained to ILO radio that he expected the to book to be useful for those developing economic policy:

"We went out of our way with the book to bring in some policy makers as chapter writers.  That's true for the case of South Africa, it's true for the case of Brazil. And so, we wanted people with hands-on experience to write up their stories. We hope that in doing that we will also be able to speak more effectively to other policy makers."

Reporting for ILO radio, this is Pete Forster.