Welsh Economic Review – Economic Policies for Peripheral Economies

Gerald Holtham
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On 10 May 2016, a special edition of Welsh Economic Review on Economic Policy for Peripheral Economies was launched, featuring papers from the Society’s first International Symposium held at Portmierion and supported by Bangor University.

The aim of the special issue, organised by the LSW and edited by Professor Gerald Holtham FLSW, convener of the symposium,  is to provide authoritative and objective analysis of the Welsh economy, and regional economies in general, in a manner that promotes understanding and informs future decision-making.

The featured articles included contributions from  Ricardo Hausmann, John Kay, Ken Mayhew, Bridget Rosewell, Ron Boschma, Colin Mason, Graham Gudgin, Robert Huggins, and Jonathan Price, and an editorial by Gerald Holtham.

As Professor Holtham explains in the editorial, the purpose of the Symposium was not merely to review the current state of the academic field, but also to stimulate a discussion with a direct bearing on government policy.

The issues covered have widespread relevance but are evidently pertinent to Wales. The country is geographically peripheral in Europe and since the decline of the heavy industries in which it had specialized, and indeed had helped to launch during the industrial revolution, it has become economically peripheral too. Wales’ GDP per head is only slightly more than 70 per cent of the UK average, and West Wales and the Valleys, together with Cornwall, are the last remaining areas of the UK classified as less developed regions by the EU. That means their GDP per head is less than 75 per cent of the average of the 27 EU countries.

The papers in the volume range from those taking an extensive view of development issues for peripheral countries in the globalized economy today to those concentrating on particular policy areas. […] The Symposium has many lessons for policy in Wales, though these need to be considered and assimilated with appropriate adaptations to local conditions. [….] There were differences among Symposium participants about how ambitious public policy could reasonably be in attempting to promote economic development in Wales relative to the UK as a whole. And it would probably be agreed that the right educational policy might well not be sufficient to change Wales’ relative position substantially but that it is a necessary element few, if any, would dispute.

Published by Cardiff University Press, this open access journal is available to download here.