Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Climate-Resilient Industrial Development Paths: Design Principles and Alternative Models

Thomas Richter

April 2010

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


This paper argues that trade and capital account reforms within autocracies underlie the primacy of foreign currency procurement. A longitudinal comparison of four countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan) in the Middle East and North Africa region shows a historical sequencing of reforms. In the 1960s and 1970s, the foreign exchange scarcity was managed primarily by rising restrictions, accumulation of debt and a number of unilateral country‐specific strategies, including broader economic openings (infitah) and isolated capital account liberalizations. However, IMF‐friendly reforms (orthodox trade liberalization) only became a political option in the context of the extreme fiscal scarcity of the 1980s and 1990s, after the failure of these earlier policies and the drying up of alternative unconditional finance. Additionally, the time differences regarding when orthodox reforms are implemented within autocracies mainly relate to global and regional cycles of different external windfall gains. These findings complement recent debates about the rush to free trade in at least two regards. First, they point to distinct causal mechanisms depending on the type of political regime (for example, autocracy versus democracy), explaining the beginning of trade and capital account liberalizations among developing countries. Second, they reveal the conditional historical influence of neoliberal ideas among structurally similar autocracies.