An Introduction to the Global Economy
With a view to considering the extent to which an increasingly global economy with more effective economic integration has been achieved, it is necessary for this essay to show an appreciation of the relevance of the principles of globalisation in this regard that have served to effect the way international economic law is developing. On this basis, it is considered to be of particular interest to show and appreciation of the World Trade Organization’s position in view of the fact that it has sought to both regulate and enhance international trade relations between developed and developing countries. In addition, it will also be for this essay’s discussion to look to show a clear understanding of the fundamental issues raised due to the ever increasing levels of international trade between countries including how they should deal with concerns pertaining to this kind of trade. Therefore, this essay will not only deal with the issues of legality and regulation that are linked with the recognition of the principle of globalisation with a view to producing what is considered to be a truly global economy, but also provide for an evaluation of traditional understandings of nationality and how they are being dealt with regarding the development of international economic law. Moreover, it will also be shown how international economic law has moved towards dealing with issues of international trade including the prevalence of the principle of free trade and how countries are becoming increasingly intertwined on a commercial level with a view to ensuring consistency between nations. Finally, this essay will seek to conclude with a summary of the key points derived from this discussion with a view to recognising the increasing levels of economic integration achieved in the global economy.
The concept of globalisation describes how regional cultures, societies, and economies have become integrated through an international trade network. Principles in this regard are commonly driven through factors of economic, technological, sociocultural, political, and biological combined – although it is also related to the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture. According to the United Nations Economic & Social Commission for Western Asia, globalisation is a broad term that can be defined in a varied manner. However, when the concept of globalisation is used in the context of the economy, the related principles have referred to the barriers to trade being reduced and even removed across national borders to provide for a much greater flow of goods, capital, labour and services. Nevertheless, whilst globalisation is not a new phenomenon, the process, begun at the turn of the late nineteenth century, has seen its effectiveness slowed somewhat steadily from World War I until the end of the twentieth century. This development arose from the inward-looking policies pursued by many countries to protect numerous industries before globalisation increased rapidly again as relations between countries were made more certain leading to enhanced economic growth.
The process of globalisation is commonly understood to be closely linked to developments in international trade in view of all individual countries need to generate sustainable economic growth to develop and maintain a standard of living for their people derived from the effective recognition of the need for effective economic integration within the global economy. However, the World Trade Organization has only actually been managing the international trade regime as part of the global economy in more contemporary times since the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade served to precede it. The General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade was implemented as policy for the regulation of international trade between member states in relation to the regulation of international trade in 1948 amid what were recognised as significant inequalities of a post-colonial nature. As a result, this understanding of the law effectively served to embrace the view that there was a clear need to look to move forwards from a regime that was founded upon an agreement that constituted a significant shift in relations between countries regarding matters of multilateral trade within the global economy through effective economic integration.
Nevertheless, in what was a move that may serve to emphasise continuity or the minimal nature of what has transpired from agreement to organisation, the World Trade Organization now includes within its scope a Preamble similar to what was found previously within the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade with a view to then better securing the developing world’s growth as part of the global economy. On this basis, it would seem that the World Trade Organization sought to consolidate a trend that begun from the moment that the system of international trade became fixated with non-tariff issues like human rights’ significance that served to create added pressure for consolidation leading to the need for an overarching institution to be developed that was similar to what the European Communities looked to propose with a Multilateral Trade Organization. However, the reality is that the development of the World Trade Organization arose in the form of a regulatory organisation as a significant response to the economic interdependence GATT had contributed to through the instigation of policies of corporate capitalism despite what have been recognised as non-tariff measures inhibitions.
The World Trade Organization was put into place with a view to then looking to provide for the improvement of both the administration and function of the multilateral trading system under the previous remit provided for in this regard by the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade within the global economy through more effective economic integration. This was considered to be particularly true of the position that was achieved in developing and less developed countries so as to then provide for the guarantee of full employment and ‘real’ economic growth in the long-term for these countries within the global economy. The reason for this is largely because the financial conditions that have come to be recognised as being particularly prevalent in developed countries have improved substantially, whilst developing countries have unfortunately been left some way behind seemingly without awareness and sufficient redress due to the failure to effectively integrate these countries within the global economy for their benefit. The reason for this is that, according to calculations undertaken by the International Monetary Fund, economies in developing countries will soon account for almost a hundred percent of the growth in levels of output internationally. Therefore, even assuming the United States of America and European economies return to what are their long-term economic growth paths, the International Monetary Fund still expects developing countries markets will account for at least seventy percent of economic growth in the world until at least 2016. On this basis, in an effort to improve the position of developing countries, the World Trade Organization has looked to create dispute settlement panels for resolving disputes between nations pertaining in issues of international trade. Moreover, the World Trade Organization provides for the strict surveillance of adopted panel reports’ implementation and also the authorisation to retaliate against those nations that fail to accept such rulings with a view to limiting their impact upon the ongoing development of the global economy with effective economic integration.
The framework that developed under the World Trade Organization regulatory mechanism sought to provide for the assurance that rules of international trade would then serve to keep up with the ongoing varied nature of the developing world economy. In addition, it was also believed that the World Trade Organization served to put into place the ‘Multilateral’ and ‘Plurilateral’ Trade Agreements.These developments then better provided for the resolution of disputes in international trade before they then start by looking to oversee national trade policies and co-operating with other international institutions for the purpose of enhanced economic integration within the global economy.However, the academics that are working in this field of study have looked to embrace the idea moving from a regime previously based upon the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade was a significant achievement for relations with regard to multilateral trade.Therefore, the World Trade Organization arose as an international regulatory body in response to the significant level of economic interdependence General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade had successfully contributed to through achievements in relation to matters of corporate capitalism despite their having still been inhibited by many measures labelled as non-tariff like the recognition of human rights norms despite the increasingly global nature of relations between countries.
The reason for this it that the use of tariffs in international trade relations was supposed to provide for a means for one country’s problems to then be exported internationally to other countries around the world.Therefore, in an effort to countenance such measures foreign producers have looked to retaliate because, for example, with regards to the United States of America’s car industry it was estimated that the damage that had been caused by the Japanese stood at around $6.2 billion.As a result, the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade and then more latterly the World Trade Organization’s development was intended to limit the need to deal with such problems by providing then providing countries involved in international trade with a forum for then being able to air any and all concerns that they may have with regards to problems relating to international trade relations in the making of such policies.Such an understanding of the value of these kinds of international regulatory bodies was then only further emphasised by former US President Harry Truman in an address given at Baylor University when he said that rather than adopting measures that could be considered to be somewhat harmful to others countries would look to negotiate in relation to matters of concern with a view to fairly resolving a dispute.Then, in somewhat similar regard, the then Director of the Office of Economic Affairs in the US, one Harry Hawkins, recognised that when a country suffers to its significant detriment economically, then its people are likely to be more willing to follow anyone who may promise them a better life.On this basis, it has come to be understood that conflicts in relation to matters of international trade are likely to breed a certain level of non-cooperation, suspicion, and bitterness that will not assist the development of effective relations between nations pertaining to principles of globalisation.
In spite of this understanding of the importance of trading effectively in the wake of the recognition of the importance of principles of globalisation, although the World Trade Organization is a significant international economic institution its exact nature and scope is still heavily contested. The reason for this is that, with regard to the activities of the World Trade Organization in particular, it is now somewhat unclear as to why an international organisation is needed to be able to oversee countries individual international trade policies when it has been argued that free trade should be selected as a natural response so the unilateral ‘disarmament’ of trade barriers should occur spontaneously.In addition, the World Trade Organization has also been placed under constant scrutiny supported by the remit of the Atlantic Charter 1941 where it was determined that countries need to endeavour with respect for their existing obligations to further all countries enjoyment of equal access to world trade and raw materials needed for their economic prosperity. This is because it is believed such an approach will then serve to bring about collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of then being able to secure improved labour standards, economic advancement, and social security.Therefore, since it is arguable that, by resolving one issue, other matters can then also be resolved for the benefit of individual countries so it is arguable the credibility of the World Trade Organization is then closely linked to the effectiveness of its dispute settlement mechanisms.The reason for this is that the World Trade Organization’s methods of resolving disputes will be useless without the proper incentives to then back them up so as to guarantee their enforcement as a high priority.
On this basis, it would seem that the World Trade Organization’s rules in relation to international trade that have been developed have served to underpin the multilateral trading system that countries seek to trade within so that, from 1991, a significant source of disquiet has been the recognition that the World Trade Organization’s success was still largely dependent upon national governments’ co-operation.Nevertheless, those World Trade Organization Member States that have used the World Trade Organization’s procedures have been found to be generally satisfied with the system that has been used for strengthening the credibility and predictability of the multilateral trading system to better improve all countries economic positions.However, most World Trade Organization Member States are developing countries with usually neither the financial means nor the expertise to protect their rights so that, even where they receive a favourable report, they have no effective means for enforcing its recommendations.In addition, it is also necessary for World Trade Organization Member States to respect certain principles in relation to the determining of solutions to their disputesso if one of the parties was unwilling to hold consultations this would violate their obligations in relation to forming relationships for bringing about an increase in international trade leading to greater economic growth. By way of illustration, if a party adopts a negotiating position “without contemplating any modification of it”,this would then serve to violate Articles 4.1 and 4.2 of the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Understanding.The reason for this is that they fail to account for the opinions of the other party and this would then be considered to be contrary to the overall aims of the dispute settlement procedure.
With this in mind, developing countries have sought to bring about the implementation of ‘special rules’ to then help them with the process of dispute resolutionso as to then better account for their abilities to trade internationally.However, arguably the most significant change has arisen with regards to the introduction of the World Trade Organization in the wake of the previously instigated General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade system of international trade regulation that sought to ensure decisions in relation to disputes that are not dependent upon the individual parties’ economic strength. Nevertheless, the expertise needed to advocate a particular claim before the World Trade Organization is still often lacking due to a fear of the large costs that are involved with seeking appropriate legal advice and the collection of technical, economic, scientific, and other data as supporting evidence for these purposes.In addition, even where such countries will willingly accept the costs that are involved with seeking appropriate legal advice, developing countries must still look to deal with the enforcement of the decisions of dispute resolution panels. However, although retaliation may not be an effective policy in seeking to resolve issues pertaining to international trade, such a problem is nothing new and neither are the proposed solutions with damages suggested along with joint or collective retaliation as opposed to more unilateral action that could be perceived of as being somewhat negative and antagonistic ultimately in its effects.
Problems have, however, arisen from out of the fact that economic powers in the more developed and industrialised world like the United States of America and the United Kingdom have proved to be somewhat unwilling to support the forms of international trade that both developing and less developed countries are forced to use in the policies that they have developed. As has already been stated as part of this essay’s discussion, free trade is a type of international trading policy that serves to allow international traders to carry out transactions with with one another without then also being concerned about any potential interference from national governments with a view to then deriving mutual benefits from both goods and services that are then traded in keeping with the understanding of comparative advantage. Therefore, the prices that have been recognised in this regard under a policy of free trade are determined as being part of such a policy to be able to then reflect true supply and demand principles that are the sole determinants of resource allocation.This is, however, somewhat different from other international trading policies where goods and services allocation among countries are determined on the basis of the use of more artificial prices that have been derived from protectionist trade policies because of a national government’s intervention that only increases the costs involved.Principles of free trade’s understanding was then only further emphasised arguably by the fact national government interventions generally include tariffs and non-tariff barriers as well as inter-government managed trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement that otherwise restrict free trade principles between countries involved in international trade.This is reflective of the fact, therefore, that most countries conduct some policy of international trade that is at least to some degree protectionist in nature regarding, for example, agricultural subsidies in particular due to the importance of farmed food.
That this stance has proved to be so significant in relation to international trade is marked by the fact that the adoption of a free trade policy may actually serve to increase poverty in a given nation by all too often contravening human rights norms as they are usually understood in the much more developed and industrialised west.Nevertheless, there is still a need to show an understanding of the fact that, historically, the majority of the most prosperous civilisations ever to have existed have involved themselves in some form of free trade policy believing that this was the main reason why many of these civilizations achieved prosperity.For example, academics have recognised that increased trading between countries throughout history was fundamental for achieving economic prosperity in Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome amongst othersThe importance of free trade principles were then only further emphasised between the 19th and well into the 20th century for many industrialised states now,whilst it was also believed that the adoption of policies of international free trade would serve to promote peace.John Maynard Keynes for one argued that this underpinned his criticism of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 for the damage it had done to the European economy at the end of World War I.This understanding was then only further affirmed for Keynes, after a brief flirtation with protectionism in the early 1930s, when he once again looked to favour principles of free trade combined with internationally coordinated domestic economic policies to promote high levels of employment and international economic institutions.
Such an approach was then only further reflected by the fact that “From 1820 to 1980, the average tariffs on manufacturers in twelve industrial countries ranged from 11 to 32%” whilst “In the developing world, average tariffs . . . are approximately 34%” to effectively repress the entry of products onto the international market from these countries.However, it has also since come to be believed that the higher tariffs that are utilised by developing countries may be justified because the productivity gap that has been recognised with developed countries is much higher than that which exists between developed countries alone.Therefore, whilst it is arguable that tariffs should serve to enhance infant industries in developing countries in particular (although also in developed countries), these tariffs need to be sufficiently great in scope to be able to then allow goods that are manufactured domestically to compete under the ‘import substitution industrialisation’ theory where an individual nation seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign goods through the production of more goods domestically.At the same time, however, there is a need to recognise that such a theory has proved somewhat ineffective for more developing countries. The reason for this is that it has long been recognised that export-oriented industrialisation policies correlate with higher economic growth founded upon theory and the observational study of correlations so they then suffer from a number of weaknesses including the size of sample.In addition those factors that are ingrained in socialism have frequently opposed the recognition and use of free trade policies in international trade since they have served to permit workers to then have maximum exploitation.
Such a view was then only further supported by the fact that, in a lecture given to the World Trade Organization in 2007, Jagdish Bhagwati recognised that the growing use and development of new forms of innovative technology for the purposes of enhanced communication was likely to place up to 40 million jobs at risk in the US alone within a short period of just twenty years so that there is now a need for more stringent protection for displaced workers and improved systems of education. Loss of opportunities to work is not the only problem, however. This is because international free trade agreements have served to seriously undermine people’s international human right to adequate food when they should be able to seek redress for this under Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, & Cultural Rights 1966 as part of an individual’s right to seek a sufficient standard of living for both themselves and their family. However, whilst states parties must look to take steps appropriately to guarantee the realisation of this right to food, the implementation of such a right has proved practically somewhat flawed due to the need for the development of an alternative strategy meaning the production and distribution of food should be removed from international trade agreements because of its universal importance to all people. Such a view is then only further emphasised by the fact that academics including Thomas Pogge have recognised that millions of people could have had their lives saved had more developed countries permitted international institutions to satisfy even the most basic idea of fairness in international trade because the World Trade Organization’s remit has been slanted with a view to emphasising the interests of richer countries over and above those of the developing world. By way of illustration, the World Trade Organization has permitted more developed countries to be able to maintain higher tariffs against developing countries, whilst hypocritically requiring them to dismantle their own systems of protectionism regarding the implementation of barriers to international trade.
Therefore, although Pogge may claim not to be against the recognition of the importance of inter-related principles of free trade and globalisation, Pogge has complained against the World Trade Organization because of the fact that it fails to open markets involved with international trade enough so that the benefits of free trade have proved to be somewhat limited, whilst they have also been particularly withheld from those who are impoverished living in developing countries. That such a view has arisen is largely derived from the fact that the growing global recognition of free trade principles has served to magnify the recognised complications that are involved with accountability across the corporate divide that clearly distinguishes the position in developed and developing countries. Significant efforts have, however, also been made to enhance free trade systems accountability internationally through – (i) participating in international institutions governing trade; (ii) domestic litigation asserting rights against corporations operating in different countries operating abroad; and (iii) the promotion of principles of corporate social responsibility. For example, a number of major interest groups in the are of international trade including the International Labour Rights Forum have sought to implement reforms supranationally to permit greater public participation in international trade institutions like the World Trade Organization to better resolving disputes pertaining to international trade. Moreover, organisations with a more non-governmental scope in this regard have also sought to encourage the World Trade Organization to be more responsive to human rights issues as opposed to just those matters that are specifically involved with international trade through policies of greater consultation and cooperation. However, matters have not been helped by the World Trade Organization’s decision to use its discretion regarding whether to accept public interest submissions meaning they are rarely reviewed in the way they should regarding human rights issues – although interest groups in this area remain undaunted.
The somewhat marginal nature of such efforts have, however, also served to highlight the World Trade Organization’s power and insularity, whilst also bringing into sharp relief the problems with how international trade policy has been determined. Efforts that have been made in relation to international law in this area has also sought to promote corporate accountability in developing countries by extending the remit of national legislation such as that which is found in the US in the form of the Alien Tort Statute 2000. As a result, the International Labour Rights Forum has also looked to spearhead a test case of some significance that looked to attack international corporate action on the basis of allegations that the Union Oil Company of California had permitted the Burma government to perpetrate acts of forced labour, torture, and other abuses that serve to contravene international human rights recognition. Nevertheless, labour abuses that transpire that are of a more traditional nature may not fall within the scope of the universally accepted international law violations that are required by the United States Supreme Court according to its decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. This is because it was recognised by the court that there is a need for any claim that is founded upon the contemporary understanding of the ‘law of nations’ to rest upon showing an appreciation of norms of international character commonly accepted by the civilised world. As a result, labour groups have looked to more obliquely consider matters related to international human recognition by looking to focus upon allegations of egregious abuse against labour activists in view of the fact that most recent International Labour Rights Forum-led cases have spotlighted the torture and murder of union organisers in Latin American-United States subsidiaries as a particular concern.
Free trade is not the only area of concern, however. This is because the United States of America, for one, has traditionally looked to make it clear that it is not a supporter of ‘countertrade’ involving developing nations broadly considered as being founded upon the exchange in goods without the use of money and with a maximum feasible reduction of social, cultural, political, or personal transaction costs. The reason for this is then only further supported by the fact that the American government generally looks upon the concept ofcountertrade as being contrary to an open, free trading system not really in the best long-term interests of the business community domestically – although, as a matter of policy, the government would not oppose domestic companies’ participation in countertrade arrangements unless they would negatively impact upon national security. This is a particularly important point because it has been recognised that the adoption of such a stance could serve to have more than a little to do with the perceived threat to national security that is not without its foundations. For example, in 2004, an international trade agreement was reached on a five-year co-operation programme between Turkmenistan and Russia, whereby Turkmenistan would supply Russia with unspecified amounts of natural gas in exchange for upgrading its existing Soviet-era weaponry so that the United States of America’s government has long looked to impose trading sanctions on these countries to restrict the flow of imported goods to make countertrade much more difficult.
At the same time, however, there is now also a need to look to account for the ongoing effects of the world financial crisis that transpired just a few short years ago since it is crucial any recovery from the crisis has the same global reach touching all countries and not just those with the least resources that are from developing countries. This is because the ongoing impact of the economic crisis served to affect the state of affairs in developing countries through declining private financial flows, trade, and remittances that have proved detrimental to both their economic and social prosperity. As a result, by the end of 2009, developing countries were believed to have lost incomes that total at least $750 billion between them as a reflection of current failings in relations between nations pertaining to international trade. Such figures are, however, in reality just a slight reflection of the overall problems that have been recognised in developing countries because the cost of resolving the world financial crisis has come to $11.9 trillion. Additionally, some significant human consequences arose including increasing levels of unemployment, poverty and hunger with an additional 50 million people that are now trapped in a state of absolute poverty that it seems that they will never be able to get out of. This is because speculative nature of companies and financial institutions in the developed world had a significant detrimental impact upon economic prosperity in developing countries because a lot of the problems with financial services still being experienced in the world today are founded on the United States of America’s sub-prime mortgage financial crisis. Matters came to a head in 2007 when Paribas reported it was impossible for it to value some of the securities it had purchased since, collectively, all financial services then felt they did not know enough about the solvency of one another for lending on the inter-bank market as they looked to central banks to provide the liquidity needed to replace what was no longer available.
With a view to then resolving such problems in keeping with principles that have been recognised in relation to matters of globalisation between nations, a key question that needs to be answered is that of how developing countries can look to matters of commerce and financial services for better resolving issues of concern that are derived from the effects of the current global financial crisis. In this regard, it has been recognised that far too many poor countries have been in something tantamount to a state of denial about the effects of the global economic crisis because it has been suggested that developing countries are not well positioned to gain from any efforts made at achieving a global recovery. On this basis, there is a need for a new trade package to be developed to then focus upon preventing protectionism in l