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Several of the most powerful forces shaping the global economy converge in China's agricultural transformation. Agricultural policies were one of the keys that opened the door to broader reforms that shaped the Chinese manufacturing juggernaut and growing world trade power. In addition, these policies contributed the most significant achievement in development economics in the world economy over the past two decades: the emergence of nearly 300 million Chinese peasants from poverty.
Yet despite the momentum and importance of China's economic reforms in the agriculture sector, misunderstandings about China's agrarian competitiveness abound, and the consequences of its structural adjustment for the world trade agenda are little appreciated. Rosen, Rozelle, and Huang look at China's agricultural transformation and its implications for the international economy in general and the current world trade talks in the Doha Round in particular.
Roots of Competitiveness: China's Evolving Agriculture Interests systematically reviews China's reform in the agricultural sector, performance under its newly adopted WTO rules and obligations, and negotiating positions in WTO talks on agriculture now under way. The book's conclusions provide reason for optimism that a new force is emerging for liberalization in world agricultural trade--the major bastion of distortion and hence lost economic opportunities for developed and developing countries alike. In the short term, China's comparative advantage, its already-accepted WTO obligations, and a confidence derived from two decades of successful policy reform all point toward China's taking a strong liberalization posture on agriculture in trade forums, including the WTO. This volume also concludes that underestimating the momentum of China's agriculture strengthening is risky: Just as in manufactured goods, China is poised to displace production elsewhere in labor-intensive agriculture. China will press for liberalization in agriculture to afford its farmers the benefit of realizing their comparative advantage.