Monday, September 23, 2019 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Ha-Joon Chang

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As water flows from high to low, knowledge has always flowed from where there is more to where there is less. Those countries that are better at absorbing the knowledge inflow have been more successful in catching up with the more economically advanced nations. On the other side of the fence, those advanced nations that are good at controlling the outflow of core technologies have retained their technological leadership for longer. The technological ‘arms race’, between backward countries trying to acquire advanced foreign knowledge and the advanced countries trying to prevent its outflow has always been at the heart of the game of economic development.
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Ch. 6: Windows 98 in 1997; Is it wrong to ‘borrow’ ideas?, John Law and the first technological arms race, p. 115

 
Ha-Joon Chang

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Global economic competition is a game of unequal players ... Consequently, it is only fair that we ‘tilt the playing field’ in favour of the weaker countries. In practice, this means allowing them to protect and subsidize their producers more vigorously and to put stricter regulations on foreign investment. These countries should also be allowed to protect intellectual property rights less stringently so that they can more actively ‘borrow’ ideas from more advanced countries.

 
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Ricardo’s theory is absolutely right—within its narrow confines. His theory correctly says that, accepting their current levels of technology as given, it is better for countries to specialize in things that they are relatively better at. One cannot argue with that.
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