MORE, NOT LESS, GLOBALIZATION FOR STABLE WORLD AFTER SEPTEMBER 11
An Interview with Ernesto Zedillo
Ernesto Zedillo is the former president of Mexico. He spoke with Global
Viewpoint editor Nathan Gardels at the World Economic Forum (Davos) in
New York on Friday, Feb. 1).
GLOBAL VIEWPOINT: What is the fate of globalization since September
ERNESTO ZEDILLO: After September 11, there were some loud voices
claiming that the world which was integrating so rapidly had been stopped
in its tracks. I remember Oxford philosopher John Gray being quoted glumly,
and prominently, in the Economist saying, "This is the end of globalization."
This attitude was quite hysterical. I believed before September 11, and
I believe now, that to have a more stable and more secure world, especially
for the poorest, we need more globalization, not less. If anything, I
think the period since September 11 has reaffirmed that the future must
lie in freer trade and global integration, not disintegration or protected
Of course, this doesn't mean there are no problems or contradictions.
People expect a lot from globalization and hold conflicting views. On
the one hand, globalization is expected to raise incomes; on the other
hand, it is also said to be the chief cause of poverty and the deterioration
of the environment.
This confusion, in my view, means that those of us in favor of free trade
and investment have not been as effective in getting out the message as
those in the anti-globalization protests. For that reason, the highest
priority is to engage in a dialogue with the anti-globalization activists
like those gathered now in Puerto Alegre, Brazil, at the World Social
Forum. They need to be educated by the facts on the ground, in Mexico,
for example, that
globalization is the best friend of the poor, not their worst enemy.
GV: Do you see any change in attitude of the rich countries toward
the poor since September 11?
ZEDILLO: In fact, I do. The attitude toward development aid has
improved on the part of the developing countries. In the 1960s, the developing
world said no to trade -- most economies
were protected -- but yes to development aid to close the gap. Then, in
the 1980s and 1990s, we said, trade, not aid, was the route to prosperity.
Now there is a new attitude that says trade and aid. Despite the
freest possible trade and investment regimes, there is still no way poverty
can be eradicated without a transfer of resources from rich toward the
poor. Both are necessary, and they are complementary.
In this regard, it is interesting to note the shift in attitudes after
September 11, according to the World Economic Forum global opinion poll
on globalization. Seventy-three percent of Italians are willing to pay
1 percent more in taxes to help the world's poor. Fifty-one percent are
willing to do so in Great Britain, and 48 percent in Germany.
GV: Which forum will do more to reduce poverty on a global scale,
the World Economic Forum (Davos) in New York or the World Social Forum
-- the anti-Davos -- in Puerto Alegre, Brazil?
ZEDILLO: Both events are important because there is dialogue, discussion
and debate on the same set of issues -- from a different standpoint, with
different constituencies, all of whom have a stake. Valid ideas from both
places should be debated and heeded.
(c) 2002, Asharq Al Awsat/Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles
Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services
For immediate release (Distributed 2/1/02)