Publié le 12/06/2005

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Do trade and growth favor the struggle against poverty in developing countries? Several economists argue that poor countries don’t need assistance, but only trade, in order to develop. Others stress that foreign trade is dominated by rich countries and leaves the South marginalized. Leaving aside the crucial question of rules governing trade, trade and growth look essential to poverty reduction but the links between them are not automatic. Income inequalities, economic structures and political choices also interfere. Benefits from openness are not equally shared among individuals and regions inside each country. Poverty traps prevent the least developed countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, from participating actively in international trade. Only a combination of better internal governance, a progressive liberalization of trade and a big increase in foreign aid may help them overcome these obstacles.Philippe Delleur is Director of the Central Buying Agency of the French Ministry of Economics, Finance and Industry. He has been Administrator of the Agence française de développement (AFD).