Manufacturing Worldwide

Dec. 21, 2004

Is "free trade" fair trade? That is the question developing countries are asking after several decades of trade liberalization. Growth in these countries fell from 6% in 1996 to under 2% in 1998, reports the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The growth rate fell behind that of industrialized nations for the first time in 10 years. UNCTAD economists attribute the slower growth to persistent trade barriers in industrialized nations, falling commodity prices -- particularly oil -- and slower world economic growth. Another contributing factor is developing countries' increasing dependence on volatile foreign capital sources, a consequence of rapid trade liberalization that directly precipitated the recent Asian and Latin American financial crises. Born of the 1994 Uruguay Round of trade talks, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was supposed to balance some of the biases in international trading and financial systems, helping developing countries boost growth and employment and reduce poverty. Falling tariffs have definitely opened some previously protected markets to competition. But in some cases, when faced with the reality of cheaper imports, industrialized nations have used the WTO to make anti-dumping and other protectionist accusations. As globalization continues to unfold, manufacturing executives must be prepared to participate in the world trade debate. They need to clearly explain to a sometimes skeptical public the direct benefits of expanding trade, and to continue to push for a more equitable trading system that will effectively narrow the gap between rich and poor nations. International Economic Scorecard International Demographic Profile Trade Shows Manufacturing & Management Associations U.S. And International Embassies Global Competitiveness And Economic Freedom Rankings U.S. Government Agencies World's Top 50 Transnational Corporations

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