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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa


Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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CHAPTER 5 The quest for accelerated economic development



The quest for accelerated economic development

General introduction

Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid, Juan Cristóbal Rubio-Badan and Mzukisi Qobo

Although in many ways different, Mexico and South Africa display striking similarities in how they have undertaken economic reforms at different points in history. The two countries have had a difficult history of poverty and inequality; they have experimented with numerous economic policies, celebrated the promise of transition, economic and political, to varying degrees of success and satisfaction, and they are both, lastly, middle-income countries that are aspirational. While it is true that these countries’ political and social structures diverge quite significantly, on the economic front there are important parallels which, if looked at with the necessary prudence, can yield lessons for driving social and economic change in the future.

This chapter is divided into two sections. The first section deals with Mexico’s political economy and begins with reflections on the reforms that emerged on the back of social tensions in the 1960s. Yielding a redistributive thrust, the reforms were reversed in the wake of the international oil crisis and the advent of structural adjustment programmes from the mid-1970s to the 1980s. The difficulties of adjustment to external realities, including accession to GATT in 1986 and the participation in a process that formalised NAFTA, are discussed extensively. The case study of Mexico concludes with a political pact that was canvassed across various parties to create a governing platform that would...

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