1【Research Papers】How MNEs Help Mobilize Rural Labor for Industrialization,Alleviating Poverty (as have done across East Asia):Is the “America First” Policy a Threat? *Terutomo Ozawa（Professor Emeritus of Economics, Colorado State University, U.S.A.）Abstract Emerging markets’ comparative advantages in labor-intensive, basic manufacturing industries play a vital role in an export-driven takeoff for industrialization. In this age of globalization, MNEs are the crucial booster of such a takeoff by providing technology, skill training, and marketing channels for export to their home or third countries, especially via cross-border value chains. This “MNE-assisted” catch-up approach facilitates the mobilization of poor (subsistence) rural people as industrial workers more effectively than the self-reliant strategy of infant-industry protection. Since extreme poverty resides mostly in the rural areas, poverty alleviation occurs in consequence, as is attested to by East Asian experiences. Yet, this export-driven takeoff strategy--accommodated especially by the United States, the world’s largest export market for emerging economies--appears to be in jeopardy, now that the U.S. has initiated the “America First” policy to protect national interests. Is the strategy still effective to kick off industrialization? There is good reason why America’s new policy unlikely hinders it.KeywordsMNE-assisted catch-up, Rural labor mobilization for industrialization, Flying-geese theory, Staggered export drives, “America First” policy1．Comparative advantage as a vital input in an industrial takeoff1.1. Superiority of basic manufacturing over resource extraction as an industrial kick-starter In the early phase of industrialization, emerging economies exhibit comparative advantages in endowed-factor-intensive goods (i.e., natural resources and labor-intensive manufactures). Natural resources for export are normally exploited in a highly capital-intensive manner, requiring advanced technology, machinery and extraction gear on a large scale. This means emerging economies tend to 多国籍企業研究（2018）11号、1～11 2018（C）多国籍企業学会 http://www.mne-jp.org/＊ This is an expanded version of a discussion paper (No.81, Jan. 2018) at the APEC Study Center, Columbia University, New York. The author is grateful to Professor Hugh Patrick, the center’s director, for his constructive comments that have helped improve and elaborate on the initial draft..