Date of Award


Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Gerald A. McDermott

First Reader

William R. Hauk, Jr.

Second Reader

William R. Hauk, Jr.


The question at hand is if understanding trade and populism helps inform an understanding of concerns about populist governments in terms of trade. Countries in Latin America have been plagued by ISI policies, while East Asian countries saw success with export-led growth. Export expansion and import substitution are not contradictory policies; in fact, they complement each other. ISI is one stage of development policy, and export-led growth is a second stage (Amsden 172). Unfortunately, most Latin American countries never made it to the export expansion and trade openness stage of policy. The region came closest when many of its countries embraced the neoliberal policies of the Washington Consensus, which included the recommendation of moderate general tariffs at 10 to 20 percent levels, although it did allow for heavier temporary tariffs for infant industries (Jordan). The recommendation of the Washington Consensus to remove government-imposed barriers to imports, exports, foreign investment, and foreign currency transactions was a sharp contrast to the long-held conviction in countries, like Argentina, that developing countries needed to protect their economies from exploitative international system (Fads and Fashion in Economic Reforms). Yet, because of more neoliberal policies, the average tariff levels, maximum tariffs, and non-tariff restrictions in the region of Latin America all declined by more than 50 percent between 1985 and 1995, at the height of neoliberal reforms (Jordan). As shown, neoliberal policies have a clear association with trade, but the relationship between populism and trade is much less evident. This paper asks if trade is a critical part of populism, and ultimately confirms the null hypothesis.

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© 2017, Natalie M. Pita