Comércio Externo e Crescimento da Economia Portuguesa no Século XX
The increasing openness to international trade during the second half of the XXth century is an inescapable feature in the development of the Portuguese economy. Despite having been hit by several crises in its Balance of Payments over the century, Portugal did not suffer, apparently, from further trade imbalances due to the increasing openness - the Balance of Trade has experienced persistent deficits since the beginning of the XIXth century, both in times of openness and closeness. The interaction with the industrialization process is the most remarkable aspect of the structural changes in the Portuguese external trade over the century. Regarding exports, the main change occurs during the 60s, between food and non-food consumption goods. The former had initially a higher share, with Port wine dominating exports over the XIXth and most of the first half of the XXth century. Starting in the 60s, the main share is gradually captured by manufactured goods, including investment goods with increasing importance towards the end of the century. As for changes in the structure of imports, the foremost feature is the upward trend in investment goods, beginning in the end of the first half of the century. Imported from developed countries, investment goods were crucial to industrialization, not only as providers of inputs, but as a vehicle of technological transfer to Portuguese firms as well.The effect of external trade proved to be fundamental to the acceleration (starting in the 50s, at the outset of industrialization) of the convergence in productivity of the Portuguese economy towards the most developed European countries. In an econometric equation of conditional convergence over the XXth century, openness has a positive effect in growth potential, and the rate of convergence increases with the share of investment goods in imports. The importance of external trade to Portuguese economic growth starting in the 60s is additionally confirmed by a growth accounting analysis, in which the variables associated to exports and imports contribute substantially to the dynamics of the efficiency of the production factors. In particular, the growth accounting exercise shows that the efficacy of the investment goods imports channel increases with the productivity in the European Union countries, which have a share close to 80% in Portuguese external trade in the last decade of the century. Still distant from international technological leadership at the end of the XXth century, Portugal relies crucially on European economic integration to benefit from technological progress.
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