Before coming to Adelaide, he was Professor of Economics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC, Bologna (Italy) and Nanjing (China). He previously worked at Concordia University in Montreal and the Institut fuer Weltwirtschaft at the University of Kiel in Germany. He has also held visiting positions at universities in Australia, Canada, China, France and the USA, and is an honorary Fellow of the Centre for Euro-Asian Studies, University of Reading, UK, and of the research centre ROSES-CNRS, Universite-Paris I (Sorbonne).
Richard Pomfret has acted as adviser to the Australian government and to international organizations. In 1993 he was seconded to the United Nations for a year, acting as adviser on macroeconomic policy to the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. In 1996 he spent six months at the OECD in Paris where he prepared a report on the role of China in the world economy.
His research interests centre on economic development and international economics, and he has published over a hundred papers in these fields. He has written seventeen books, including Investing in China 1979-1989; Ten Years of the Open Door Policy (1991), The Economics of Regional Trading Arrangements (1997; paperback edition 2001), Constructing a Market Economy: Diverse Paths from Central Planning in Asia and Europe (2002), and textbooks on international trade and on development economics, and he has edited a textbook on Australian trade policies. His most recent book, The Central Asian Economies since Independence, was published by Princeton University Press in 2006.