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Successes and failures of industrial policy: Lessons from transition (post-communist) economies of Europe and Asia

Popov, Vladimir (2019): Successes and failures of industrial policy: Lessons from transition (post-communist) economies of Europe and Asia.

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- Is industrial policy necessary for successful development or the market “knows” better, how to allocate resources? - If industrial policy is needed, how to select industries that need to be supported? - What are the appropriate tools / instruments to support particular industries?

Eastern European countries in general did not have any explicit industrial policy, neither via tax concessions and/or subsidies, nor via under/overpricing the exchange rate. Many countries of former Soviet Union carried out large import substitution programs through regulation of domestic fuel and energy prices (directly and via export tax) that subsidized all energy consumers. They also provided subsidies to agricultural enterprises. China and Vietnam (and to some extent Uzbekistan) were carrying out export oriented industrial policy mostly via underpricing the exchange rate. The paper discusses pros and cons, achievements and failures of various models of industrial policy. It is argued that export oriented industrial policy via undervaluation of the exchange rate is the best possible option to promote export oriented catch up development based on export of manufactured goods. It is especially needed for resource rich countries (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) that are prone to Dutch disease. Assistance to domestic producers via keeping low domestic prices for fuel and energy also helps to stimulate growth, but at a price of very high energy intensity. Industrial policy that is not targeting particular industries (general support for education, research and development and infrastructure) may be reasonable for counties at a higher level of development.

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