Monday, April 28, 2008

Asymmetric Globalization

This gut-wrenching look at Mauritanians on the brink of famine highlights the results of asymmetric globalization. Like many poor countries, Mauritania bought into globalization, with good results: manufactured goods are now much cheaper than they would be under protection.

But not everyone is playing fair. Argentina, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and other middle-income countries have begun hoarding food, slapping high export duties on grain to the detriment of their own farmers and international consumers. For most of the world, this is a nuisance or a hardship, like the high price of oil. But for those at the margin of survival, the isolated increase in a good they must purchase on international markets forces them back to autarky: the bad old days of unfree trade.

Globalization works: Mauritanians can still buy food internationally. If they subsisted on their own production, they would have faced famine long ago. But in a world where all of us profit from global trade, magnanimity should be shown to those who have too little to offer.

1 comment:

Carol L. Douglas said...

Magnanimity... what a quaint concept.