Free Falling Terms of Trade Despite Industrialization: The Case of Bangladesh
Considering Bangladesh’s successful industrialization, Bangladesh’s sharply deteriorating terms of trade (ToT) are a puzzle for the original Prebisch-Singer hypothesis. The Prebisch-Singer hypothesis suggested that countries exporting primary products will experience deteriorating ToT, while countries exporting manufacturing goods will experience ToT improvements. This paper provides an empirical review of Bangladesh’s ToT from 1980 to 2013. It reviews the theoretical literature explaining the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis and uses econometric analyses to determine some of the key factors for Bangladesh’s ToT deterioration. It shows that exchange rate devaluations and increases in export quantity have a negative impact on the ToT, while improvements in export quality have some positive impact on the ToT. In the case of Bangladesh, the problem however is that export quality has been decreasing, contributing to sharply falling ToT. The key policy implication is that export promotion policies need to be refined, focusing also on export quality, not only export quantity
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