The Chinese proverb: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," has never been more relevant than today.

Globalization, the integration of national markets through international trade and investment, offers infinite possibilities, greater freedom, and new hope for the world's poor.

Since globalization emerged in the 1970s, world infant mortality rates have fallen by almost half, adult literacy has increased more than a third, primary school enrollment has risen, and the average life span has shot up 11 years. In the short span from 1990 through 1998, the number of people living in extreme poverty in East Asia and the Pacific decreased 41% — one of the largest and most rapid reductions in history.

Due to successful efforts to lower global barriers, international trade and investment have become a primary engine of world growth. And growth is responsible for reducing poverty. In fact, studies indicate that developing countries with open economies grew by approximately 5% a year in the 1970s and 1980s, while those with closed economies grew less than 1% annually.

Today, 24 developing countries representing about 3 billion people, including China, India and Mexico, have adopted policies enabling their citizens to take advantage of globalization. The result: their economies are catching up with rich ones. The incomes of the least globalized countries, including Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, have dropped or remained static.

If remaining world merchandise trade barriers are eliminated, potential gains are estimated at $250 - $550 billion annually. About two-thirds of this would accrue to developing countries — more than twice their annual level of aid.

Helping the world's poorest countries to become globally integrated will position them for greater growth in the 21st century. And who would know this better than former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, who said, “In every case where a poor nation has significantly overcome its poverty, this has been achieved while engaging in production for export markets and opening itself to the influx of foreign goods, investment and technology — that is, by participating in globalization.”

Powered by advances in telecommunications, transportation and finance, globalization empowers consumers to purchase the best the world has to offer and gives producers the tools to find buyers anywhere. Consequently, in the United States, resources have shifted to sectors with competitive advantages, productivity has reached new highs and innovation has flourished. Self-directed teams now apply sophisticated skills to create and run new processes. This has transformed U.S. manufacturing and boosted demand for more highly-skilled workers.

But globalization has had negative consequences on some developing countries that don’t have sound legal or financial systems. As a result, anti-globalists with good intentions but bad policy recommendations often brand globalization as the scapegoat for many of the world’s ills.

The challenges introduced by globalization are similar to those introduced by the industrial revolution. Just as the internet eliminates distance, we relive what the railroads and electricity brought to an earlier age. But, with change comes controversy. And just as the industrial revolution's detractors spawned Marxism, it is essential to correct globalization’s defects before counter-forces destroy its promise.

To succeed in this highly technical environment, seize the benefits of globalization and reduce the risks, American workers must continually learn new skills, developing countries must welcome global integration, and all nations must provide safety nets. By teaching people and their nations to fish in the waters of globalization, billions will achieve the means to obtain a higher quality of life.

This articles was syndicated by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services and appeared in the Duluth News, Milwaukee Journal, Reno Sunday Gazette-Journal, The Pantagraph, The Institute for Humane Studies, and The Wichita Eagle in August and September 2002.

John Manzella
About The Author John Manzella [Full Bio]
John Manzella, founder of the, is a world-recognized speaker, author and an international columnist on global business, trade policy, labor, and economic trends. His latest book is Global America: Understanding Global and Economic Trends and How To Ensure Competitiveness.

More Articles | Speaker Programs | Speaker Demo | Videos | Services

You don't have permission to view or post comments.

Quick Search

FREE Impact Analysis

Get an inside perspective and stay on top of the most important issues in today's Global Economic Arena. Subscribe to The Manzella Report's FREE Impact Analysis Newsletter today!