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The Middle-income Trap from the Viewpoint of Trade Structures

Discussion Papers


November 2014


In this study, we try to elucidate the middle-income trap from the viewpoint of international trade. We conduct regression analyses on the relationship between income level and net export ratios for different types of goods for trapped and non-trapped samples separately. Our findings indicate that industrial upgrading appears to occur exactly as depicted by the flying-geese model for non-trapped countries while trapped countries tend to depend on the export of primary commodities, and industrialization appears to be driven by forward linkages to processed goods and a narrow base. The results of our analyses suggest that the middle-income trap is a form of Dutch disease or a ‘resource curse’ in the middle-income stage.

Keywords: middle-income trap, Malaysia, trade structure, flying geese
JEL classification: O10,F14, O53

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