Maldevelopment in the newly liberated, erstwhile colonial, poor and backward countries is the result of many forces. At the base is the appalling problem of poverty, inherited inequality and the lack of equal opportunity as a legacy of the tribal and feudal past. This legacy was prolonged by the colonial system, which not only allowed tribal and feudal hierarchies to survive and perpetuate the unequal social relations that directly contribute to continuing poverty and keep economies at low levels of performance; but also introduced a new form and higher level of exploitation, by transforming the indigenous traditional political and economic elite into an intermediate stratum of collaborators in the colonial design of political domination and economic aggrandisement.
Trade can be used as a powerful tool for economic development, but in reality, has more often resulted in the maldevelopment of many Third World countries. Trade promotion has led many developing countries along unsustainable economic paths which have not resulted in the promised stable industrialized development. In reality, it has resulted in extremely unbalanced and fragile economic development similar to the case of Rwanda and Burundi whose economies had been dominated by export coffee production.