What Is International Economic Development?

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  • Written By: Peter Hann
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2020
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International economic development is the study of the process by which developing countries may achieve sustainable development. This process involves policies to improve the human resources, productivity and infrastructure of a country and create an environment of political stability. Economic development involves improved education, sanitation, health care, housing, water, sewage and transport within a stable government environment that encourages foreign investment. Economic development may be encouraged by suitable international trade policies and agreements that reduce barriers to exports from developing countries. International economic development is not necessarily the same as economic growth, which in itself may not lead to sustainable development but may have harmful consequences for the environment and for sections of a population.

Efforts to achieve international economic development include looking at the type of policies that may bring about a sustainable improvement in the economy of a developing country while recognizing that different countries may require different policies. Not all developing countries are in the same stage of development and they differ greatly in terms of their land area, natural resources, population, geographical position, infrastructure and political systems. Within the general framework of international economic development, each developing country must formulate its own specific policies to achieve sustainable development.


Developing countries generally need to develop their legal and financial institutional framework. An efficient banking system must be built to ensure that savings are appropriately invested and that businesses are able to obtain funding for new projects. Without an efficient banking system, capital will move outside the country and an unofficial financial market will grow, charging punitive interest rates for business or personal loans. A strong legal system must be constructed to enforce contracts and protect property rights and business assets. The government must be able to raise taxes and administer laws in an atmosphere free of corruption.

Infrastructure must be developed to improve the standard of living and assist trade. There must be adequate utilities such as electricity and water; public services such as education, health and policing; satisfactory postal and telecommunications services; and a good transport infrastructure including roads, railways, seaports and airports. The infrastructure is an essential basis for the improvement of the quality of human capital through increased health, education and training.

International economic development requires an international trading environment in which developing countries may engage in trade without facing unnecessary barriers. International agreements and discussions in organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) have made some progress in reducing tariff barriers to developing countries' exports but still are working as of 2011 to reduce subsidies within industrialized countries to industries such as agriculture, which prevent competition from developing countries' products. Debate continues on the extent to which developing countries may need to protect their emerging industries by means of tariff barriers to foreign imports.


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Post 3

@serenesurface-- You're right but what about corruption and conflict?

Sometimes a country does have economic growth but it doesn't benefit the people because there is corruption. Some developing nations are also dealing with conflict which is a huge barrier to foreign investment. Investors look for stability, they don't invest in countries that have conflict, war or political instability.

Post 2

I think that international development is difficult for developing countries which are yet to develop the technology, infrastructure and rule of law needed for development. Many of these countries rely on a few national resources as the main sources of their national wealth. Some countries do not even have the technology to find and make use of those resources. There are many developed countries ready to take advantage of the raw materials in those countries without really investing much.

Post 1

It sees that all countries are capable of economic growth but whether that growth results in economic development or not depends on government policies.

For economic development to occur, the government needs to use resources wisely and invest in things like infrastructure, rule of law, banking and education to make the country more attractive to investors and trade. So it's actually the policies of government that lead to economic development. In some developing nations, even though the economies are experiencing growth, it doesn't result in development due to corruption.

If growth leads to development though, development will then lead to more economic growth. A nation can actually come out of poverty more quickly than many realize if this can be accomplished.

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