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GLOBALISATION: NOT A ZERO SUM GAME BUT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

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ROME, Apr 23 2007 (IPS) - Globalisation is not a random and uncontrollable phenomenon but rather a process that we can regulate and guide, writes Emma Bonino, minister for International Trade and European Affairs of Italy. In this article, Bonino writes that today through the progressive strengthening of multilateral regulatory bodies –the European Commission, WTO, IMF, OECD– we can make sure that the benefits are ever greater and reach more of the world\’s population. Aid remains essential in situations of extreme poverty. But to implement a policy for development, aid is not enough, and I think that we should move more and more towards \’\’aid for trade\’\’, a form of assistance that makes it possible for a developing country to bolster its trade capacity and thus its ability to share in the \’\’dividends\’\’ of globalisation. Globalisation is not the cause of the ills of the underdeveloped areas of the earth; rather, it is a lack of participation in globalisation that prevents a country from achieving development and freedom. Globalisation is not a zero sum game but a great opportunity for all. Those who decide to play will not lose; rather, those who sit out, who just look on, will be the real losers.

Without a doubt, it is a long and complex process, partly because the world has changed: today the fulcrum of the world economy is shifting further and further east. Whereas before the economic centres were Washington, London, Paris, and Tokyo, today they are also Shanghai, Calcutta, and Sao Paolo. This is a point made by WTO director-general Pascal Lamy: ”There is no longer a world of the north and a world of the south but many norths and many souths.”

No analysis of globalisation can avoid the subject of offshoring, or job migration, though there are as yet no unequivocal figures about the process and numbers cited vary widely. However, it should be remembered that whereas in the first phase of globalisation, the process of offshoring was intended to lower production costs by shifting operations to areas where labour was cheaper –with the attendant risk of deindustrialisation in the first country– today offshoring has taken new forms which can work in favour of national industry and entrepreneurship as well.

In markets with double-digit growth, in fact, locating a business means guaranteeing one’s self an international profile, establishing one’s self in markets with high rates of consumption, and strengthening one’s capacities for survival in the global markets. This is true not only for major corporations but for small and medium-sized businesses as well.

It should not be forgotten that a new actor has appeared on the globalisation scene: the citizen-consumer. Whereas previously it was only the major multi-nationals that determined international trade flows, today consumers do as well. Increasingly well-informed and attentive, when consumers enter a store or supermarket they frequently make ”informed” purchases that directly determine the fate of products. Genetically-modified foods are but most dramatic example of this new process of ”informed international trade”.

Addressing globalisation means guaranteeing effective governance, putting in place rules, policies, and institutions that amplify the benefits that derive from this phenomenon. However, creating rules, policies, and institutions cannot be effective unless there are mechanisms in place that insure their credibility, respect, and correct operation. It is necessary –at least in my opinion– to promote a new form of international responsibility, which is first of all a matter for the state, whether regarding their own citizens or the actions and policies that they implement internationally. To put it another way, we can no longer allow ourselves to interact without a spirit of loyalty and co-operation on the world stage if we wish to benefit from globalisation.

Finally, there is the coherence of policies as an element of virtuous management of globalisation. I offer two examples:

From the point of view of trade policy we have a duty to conclude as soon as possible –and as well as possible– the Doha Round of the WTO, begun in November 2003. This process offers undisputed advantages, above all for developing countries, and so for Africa. The elimination of all subsidies for agricultural exports by 2013; the dismantling of those mechanisms that allow not only raw materials but increasingly processed goods to enter rich country markets with the greatest ease; the implementation of new measures to facilitate trade — all of these measures would open the way for a significant jump in growth for the poorest countries.

Similarly, we have to bring about the rapid conclusion of the Economic Partnership Accords (EPA) between the European Union and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP). These agreements have the potential to spur development of the ACP countries. It is of course necessary that there be certain conditions. Above all, it is essential that at the end of the EPA each country find itself in better, not worse, shape than before. Second, the new accords must promote the development of real regional blocs that can set in motion dynamics to spark growth and integration. Third, the process must be capable of generating greater trade flows as well as greater quantities of aid.

I am particularly interested in the synergy between aid and trade, which have been long considered separate elements, alternatives, or even competing approaches. Aid remains of course essential in situations of extreme poverty. But to implement a policy for development, aid is not enough, and I think that we should move more and more towards ”aid for trade”, a form of assistance that makes it possible for a developing country to bolster its trade capacity and thus its ability to share in the ”dividends” of globalisation.

Globalisation is not the cause of the ills of the underdeveloped areas of the earth. To the contrary, I think that the opposite is true, that it is a lack of participation in globalisation that prevents a country from achieving development and freedom. Globalisation is not a zero sum game but a great opportunity for all. Those who decide to play will not lose; rather, those who sit out, who just look on, will be the real losers. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

 
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