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Abstract

While agriculture's contribution to national output and employment tends to decline with economic growth, its contribution to exports need not. Neoclassical theory suggests that a country's comparative advantage in agriculture depends on its endowment of agricultural land relative to mineral resources and nonfarm capital, compared with endowment ratios in other countries. Over time, a country's agricultural comparative advantage will decline faster, the faster its mineral extraction, its growth in nonfarm capital per worker and its rates of nonfarm relative to farm technological change, again compared with other countries. Empirical support for this theory is provided by evidence from the diverse set of economies on the Pacific rim. The paper concludes with a discussion of likely future trends in comparative advantage and agricultural trade of Pacific rim countries, particularly Australia.

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