Globalization offers a road out of poverty

  • 1 January 2000

In a robust defence of the global economy, President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico has pointed out that in every case where a poor nation has significantly overcome its poverty, this has been achieved while engaging in production for export markets and opening up to foreign goods, investment and technology - that is by participating in globalization.

Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Zedillo said that trade was the most powerful instrument for making labour conditions converge across nations. For most people in developing countries who work in trade-related activities, their jobs mean a significant improvement compared with their previous occupations and a step towards better opportunities, he said.

Nobody would claim that access to free trade and investment was sufficient to achieve sustained development and overcome poverty. “Much more is needed in terms of sound macroeconomic policies, domestic liberalization, permanently increasing investment in education, health and human capitalas well as the strengthening of democratic institutions including those that guarantee the rule of law,” the Mexican President said.

On balance, economic integration tended to favour, not worsen the environment, President Zedillo added. “Since trade favours economic growth, it brings about at least part of the necessary means to preserve and remedy the environment.”

The Mexican President was refuting the views of what he termed “a peculiar alliance” of forces from extreme left, extreme right, environmentalist groups, trade unions of developed countries, and some self-appointed representatives of civil society.

These forces, he said, were gathering around a common endeavour “to save the people of developing countries fromdevelopment.”

“Of course, no member of this alliance would recognize that it is seeking to inflict intentional damage on anyone, least of all on the poor people of less advanced countries.”

President Zedillo said that each group put forward its own motive fore being globaphobic. “Every group in this alliance happens to believe that its own special interest – economic, political, social or otherwise – would be well served if trade and investment among nations were not further liberalized, and preferably reversed.”