Guest Contributor William Krist: Trade, Poverty, and Economic Development

The U.S. has an important interest in helping the poorest countries, most of which are in Africa, develop economically.  Over the long-term, as these countries develop they will become better markets for U.S. exports.  Poor countries cannot afford to buy many of our products, such as Boeing aircraft or Ford cars, but as they get richer U.S. exporters will find new and growing markets.

Economic development can also be important for encouraging the spread of democracy and as a tool in combatting terrorism.  As former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick stated “[p]overty does not cause terrorism, but there is little doubt that poor, fragmented societies can become havens in which terrorists can thrive.”

Trade has been an important tool for many countries to grow economically.  Unfortunately, many of the least developed countries are not participating in global trade to the extent they should be in order to promote economic growth.  In a June 16 conference sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Africa Program, the Prodi Foundation and SAIS, William Krist and John Sewell presented a paper outlining important steps African nations should take to expand their trade and boost their economic development, available here.

William K Krist is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.  He is a former Senior Vice President of the American Electronics Association.  He has written extensively on trade, development, and the environment. 

Photo Credit: David Hawxhurst/Woodrow Wilson Center

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