Paths of Development, Specialization, and Natural Resources Abundance
This paper addresses three main questions; how can a country specialized in primary goods become an exporter of manufacturing goods? How does factor abundance affect the possibilities of achieving comparative advantages in manufactures? Does the type of natural resource abundance make any difference to the path of development? Based on factor-endowment-driven specialization, we study the trade patterns along the paths of development (defined as capital accumulation) for a large sample of countries in the last four decades. Consistently with the idea that countries are located in different cones of diversification, we find that net exports are a non-linear function of the capital/labor ratio of the economy. The pattern of gaining comparative advantages in manufacturing goods as a country develops depends not only on whether it is natural resource abundant or not, but also on its type of natural resources abundance. This paper shows that mineralabundant countries are positioned in a diversification cone with low levels of capital per worker and they are net importers of all manufacturing goods. In contrast to countries with comparative advantages in forestry and agricultural products, mining countries are the least likely group to change their specialization pattern towards manufacturing goods. On the other hand when we use human capital instead of physical, we find that mineral abundant countries will move to a cone where they produce and export capital intensive manufactures. The forest abundant countries will attain comparative advantages in machinery as they accumulate human capital. Looking at the mineral abundant countries we find some differences in the path of development for oil exporters and non-oil exporters.
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