More than a year after protests at the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, Washington, a peculiar meld of extreme leftists and rightists, trade unionists, radical environmentalists and some self-appointed representatives of civil society still insists on saving the poor people of developing countries from ...development. This alliance opposes globalization, in particular the trend toward liberalization of trade and investment.
The common ground of this globaphobic grouping is protectionism, often targeted against developing countries. Few things are as inimical to the progress of poor people of developing countries as protectionism. To overcome backwardness, two elements are integral: producing for export markets and opening to the influx of foreign goods, investment and technology.
Paradoxically, those opposed to globalization proclaim purportedly altruistic reasons. They point, for example, to the fact that wages and standards of living in poorer countries are inferior to those of developed countries. They then conclude that homogeneous core labor standards should be imposed and enforced through trade sanctions--clearly a protectionist proposal.
Trade mostly occurs because there are differences among countries, including their labor situations. If labor standards were dictated by mere bureaucratic will and enforced through trade sanctions, developing countries would be further marginalized.
Proof Is in the Results
Opponents of globalization don't seem to realize that the alternative for workers in many developing countries with newly acquired jobs in trade-related activities is extreme rural poverty or, at best, peripheral urban occupations with much lower income and no social security. They also ignore the fact that those new jobs are often an important step toward better opportunities. Native people in the new apparel plants located in many of YucatÃÂ¡n's Mayan towns, migrants from the south of Mexico working at huge television assembly plants in Tijuana, young engineers with good jobs in high-tech factories in Monterrey and Guadalajara and...