do these wishy-washy liberals from rich countries that create problems for
us in the first place, presume to protest on behalf of developing
countries they know nothing of, get publicity and then return to their
asked an angry young West Indian businessman, referring to protests
against globalisation, at the G8 conference in Genoa.
one young man died for it. Many got injured and arrested. Their hearts are
in the right place, and if those wishy-washy liberal protesters don’t
speak for smaller, developing, and poor countries, who will? How many
African, Central American, Asian, Indian, West Indian voices did you hear
among them?” I argued.
leaders can afford to dismiss those protesters because they have no
credible voice. We people of developing countries have failed to
articulate our position on globalisation, so we deserve to be ignored. We
have no lobbying power because we either take extreme unworkable positions
or dance to the tune laid down by G8 countries who beat us with the
globalisation stick only when it benefits them.”
means seeing the world as a unit, rather than separate parts.
Globalisation is also linked to the shabby pensioners I saw this morning,
shuffling through the grocery isles, choosing between sardines and milk,
unable to afford either; and the man in Tobago who died in a ditch, and
the thousands of faces of refugees and starving people from television.”
agreed: “And if we say we are a global village we need to operate like
was sounding like a frustrated closet economist.
need a modified version of globalisation that is more equitable and will
produce a win-win situation between the developed and developing world.
It’s time we work on a model that benefits everybody.”
was referring to the late Frank Rampersad, a regionally and now
internationally acclaimed Trinidadian economist. He wrote a seminal paper,
his last, on the effects of globalisation on small countries. His body was
giving up on him but with extraordinary prescience, he articulated almost
to the last, with that razor-sharp mind, ways to level the playing field
and reduce poverty in developing countries.
called: “Coping with Globalisation: A Suggested Policy Package for Small
Countries,” published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political
and Social Science, July 2000.
believed unstable exchange rates and protectionism are among the biggest
problems developing countries grapple with as a result of globalisation.
used America as an example. This super power strides the world preaching a
lowering of tariffs and barriers to small, vulnerable countries,
especially in the areas where we have competitive advantages, including
food, textiles, and in our case, steel. America and the EU spend billions
of dollars subsidising their farmers, dumping excess food. They tout free
market economies but only practise it when it’s convenient.
countries must press their case more vigorously for a special regime to be
applied to them in international trade and finance. The US agreement of
“no free riders” is nonsense, when it is made to apply to these
countries which have limited opportunity for diversification of their
production base, encounter severe obstacles in seeking access through
migration to the industrialised countries where employment opportunities
exist, and the resulting extreme volatility in their incomes.”
was saying to the G8 countries: “If you want us to back globalisation,
play fair; take the burden off those least able to afford it.”
painted three scenarios - suggestions to narrow the gap between poor and
rich countries within the context of globalisation.
1: He supported Jeffrey Sachs proposal for “A group of 16 in the UN”
representing developed and developing countries. That would be a lobby to
persuade donor countries to increase their international aid effort to
reach the UN-agreed target of 0.7 per cent of GNP to flow to poor
countries through regional aid agencies. In this scenario, Rampersad
suggested, the World Bank would become a development bank, focusing
attention on markets and technology, and push for more self-reliance in
guiding development of the economies of poor countries.
2: He suggested the grouping of Western Hemisphere countries in order to
withstand large movement of speculative capital.
3: Drawn from the Carlsson/Ramphal Report, Rampersad suggested the
creation of an apex body in the UN. This would focus global attention on
poor countries. Funded by the Tobin Tax and a tax on the arms trade, it
would operate essentially as the hospital in the global village (my
analogy) and “mount meaningful efforts in addressing some of the worlds
ills,” most of which thrive in poor countries, including “famine,
Aids, desertification, river blindness, loss of biodiversity.”
placed equal responsibility on developing countries and developed
countries to improving the lot of the world’s poor. For too long, he
said, we have allowed ourselves to be dictated to, with “stunning
arrogance” by the international financial community, especially the
World Bank and the IMF.
is a timely reminder that under globalisation, superpowers spread and
share economic pneumonia, but do not spread or share wealth. But this
myopic type of double standard from superpowers comes at a price.
at home we need to start with creating safety nets for our poor and begin
pushing for a regional lobby to articulate our position on globalisation.
leaders and G8 countries ignore credible voices speaking on our behalf,
such as Rampersad’s, at our own peril.
real backlash, if globalisation continues to widen the gap between the
rich and the poor, will be world depression - one disease which can sink