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WTO Director-General launches 'Trade in a Globalizing World'
15
Jul '08
Patrick Low, Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division and Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General, at the launch of the 2008 World Trade Report.
Patrick Low, Director, Economic Research and Statistics Division and Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General, at the launch of the 2008 World Trade Report.
Trade has allowed nations to benefit from specialization and economies of scale to produce more efficiently. It has raised productivity, supported the spread of knowledge and new technologies, and enriched the range of choices available to consumers. But deeper integration into the world economy has not always proved popular, nor have the benefits of trade and globalization necessarily reached all sections of society. As a consequence, trade scepticism is on the rise in certain quarters.

This year's World Trade Report, entitled “Trade in a Globalizing World”, is devoted to an examination of the gains from international trade and the challenges arising from higher levels of integration. Over many years, governments in most countries have increasingly opened their economies to international trade, whether through multilateral trade negotiations, increased regional cooperation or as part of domestic reform programmes.

“Few would contest the benefits that globalization and trade have brought in terms of greater prosperity for hundreds of millions, as well as greater stability among nations. But many individuals in different societies across the world have shared little or not all in the benefits. The challenges facing governments in managing globalization are formidable, and success in spreading prosperity more widely requires a strong common purpose” says WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy in an introduction to the Report.

The Report explores a range of interlinking questions, starting with a consideration of what constitutes globalization, what drives it, the benefits it brings, the challenges it poses and what role trade plays in this world of ever-growing interdependency.

We ask why some countries have managed to take advantage of falling trade costs and greater policy-driven trading opportunities while others have remained largely outside international commercial relations. We also consider who the winners and losers are from trade in society and what complementary action policy-makers need to take in order to secure the benefits of trade for society at large.

In examining these complex and multi-faceted questions, the Report reviews both the theoretical trade literature and empirical evidence that can help to give answers to these questions.

The causes and consequences of globalization

The Report notes that the key economic characteristic of globalization is deeper integration of product, capital and labour markets. Globalization is driven by technological innovation, political change, and economic policy choices, and this process of integration has caused significant structural changes in parts of the world economy.

The increased fusion of product, capital and labour markets internationally has resulted in a more efficient allocation of economic resources. Economic integration has resulted in higher levels of current output and prospects of higher future output.

Capital can flow to countries which need it the most for economic growth and development. Allowing workers to move across national borders can alleviate skill shortages in receiving countries or respond to the needs in rapidly ageing societies while alleviating unemployment or under-employment in countries providing these workers.

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