Policy Brief 44, August 2017

Industrialization, inequality and sustainability: What kind of industry policy do we need?

The 2030 Agenda includes as Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG 9) the commitment to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. The entry of this goal into the 2030 Agenda is an achievement for developing countries who have a very diverse situation in terms of population sizes, per capita incomes, economic sizes and structures, political systems, cultures but share the common feature of an underdeveloped industrial sector.Therefore, in order to implement SDG 9 pro-active industry policies are needed that take into account aspects of inequality and sustainability.

This essay uncovers many obstacles to this goal and raises the question of whether this new commitment can be pursued in actual policies both at the national and global level.  Will the privileging of privatization and partnerships and the dilution of safeguards against corporate capture collide with the policies need to achieve SDG 9?  As will be argued here, SDG 9 will require reviving state leadership over key economic actions, instead of reserving for private parties unfettered scope for action. Moreover, as will be seen in this essay, privatization as a policy ideal means favoring the international private sector over the domestic private sector.

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Industrialization, inequality and sustainability

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