So, Mr. Ricardo Inzunza regaled the class with tales of his adventures with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the opportunities he has had to help improve the state of some of the world’s developing economies. We are fortunate to have a professor who has traveled and worked in a number of the countries we’ve studied (and whose economies reflect some of the problems we’ve examined). We are further advantaged by having Mr. Inzunza as our guest; a real, live, World Bank consultant that could give us insight on several of Africa’s troubled economies from the perspective of an immigration specialist.
Equally important as the troubles of a few of those Sub-Saharan economies, Mr. Inzunza was able to share successes and continuing challenges of some of those countries. Ghana’s airport and Mali’s tourism were his examples of pure successes. It is a bit disheartening to know that countries are able to make forward steps in economic development only to see those changes slowly erode—Mozambique’s customs service or Lesotho’s hotels were Mr. Inzunza’s examples. However, it is very useful to hear of small successes and learn about the practical results of private sector development. He seems to agree that aid is useful but needs more coordination and is more effective when it is implemented with a more concentrated focus. It was also particularly encouraging to hear that all of the governments embrace private sector development in theory. Hopefully, practice will follow theory.
Even for a person that may have negative feelings about illegal immigration, Mr. Inzunza had stories to elicit sympathy. He has experiences that date back as far as the people the media called ‘boat people’ of the post-Vietnam era to Nadia Comăneci of the 1980s and later. It is rare that we get to enjoy someone with such broad experiences. Thanks to Dr. R for inviting him.
Two pieces of information right away (just in case you didn’t know)—Mauritius is an island nation, east of Madagascar and south of the Seychelles archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. Also, WAEMU stands for the West African Economic and Monetary Union; comprised of 8 nations in, you guessed it, West Africa. Chapter 3 of the IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa looks specifically at the WAEMU and its growth prospects. Several areas that may help explain growth differences—between WAEMU and the rest of SSA, and between SSA and the world—are examined on page 48 and following. A case study of Mauritius (Box 3.3 on page 53) takes a closer look at one of those areas, competitiveness.
Trade policies and a country’s competitiveness stance relating to exports, imports, tariffs, etc., usually have a ‘price’; that is, they can normally be quantified in dollar amounts. Nonprice competitiveness concerns those factors and policies that may be more difficult to quantify. Specifically, in this case study, Mauritius is held forth as an example of being a country in which it is easy to do business. This topic has been discussed in class as one of the factors that may encourage investment in general; and foreign direct investment, particularly. The World Bank has a “Doing Business Indicator” and from 2008 to 2010, Mauritius has been listed as the “best place to do business in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, it ranked among the top 20 countries in the world.”
The reforms that Mauritius implemented (see especially the paragraph on structural reforms and the next paragraph on property rights) in response to the external trade shocks has led to strong economic responses and increased foreign direct investment. The last sentence of the case study highlights the topic of structural transformation that the class covered earlier in the semester. You can almost see the graphs coming alive…”sugar into textiles, then tourism, and recently information and communication services and financial services.” Incidentally, if you want a closer look at how this ease of doing business might be affecting growth in Mauritius, look here.
This post was originally published on a course blog for Theory of Economic Development at MSU.