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Globalization and Third-World Countries

Globalization, defined as “the increasing level of interdependence between national systems” through factors such as “trade, military alliance and domination, and cultural imperialism” (Waters, p. 4), is a phenomenon that has influenced the course of international affairs in recent times through what is called global compression. While globalization brings positive consequences, it also has its own negative implications. One of the most common arguments against globalization is that it makes rich countries wealthier while sending poor countries further down the pit of poverty or economic strife.

If such observations are true, there are alarming effects to poor countries such as third-world countries. Should third-world countries entirely open themselves to globalization? Third-world countries should become part of the globalized international community despite the risks involved because the benefits outweigh the probable disadvantages. The threats to sovereignty and the risks of becoming economically unstable do not necessarily imply that they will happen if proper mechanisms are in place.

In response to the threats to sovereignty in the face of increased international trade and travel, third-world countries still have the prerogative to legislate laws that will protect their interests. In response to the risk of economic instability, third-world countries can also institutionalize local economic policies and appeal to international authorities in securing their economic welfare. Both responses necessarily involve the role of governments. As Roland Robertson writes, “there can be no foreseeable retreat from globalization and globality” (Robertson, p.

10). That is because the process of globalization has begun many years before and a wide number of countries of today including large nations such as the United States, United Kingdom and China have been actively involved in globalizing the world. Third-world countries can hardly force a return to the time when globalization was yet to begin. It is to the best advantage of third-world countries to use what globalization has to offer to their best advantage.

As the world becomes more compressed, in a manner of speaking, third-world countries should participate in open trade so that they will have a larger market for their products. However, third-world countries should consider enforcing local trade policies so that their interests will be protected. They should create trade regulations that foreign traders have to follow. Tariffs on trade can also be imposed so that an increase in international trade will result to an increase in national income from international imports and exports.

Moreover, third-world countries can also enter into trade agreements international organizations offer. Such agreements necessarily involve specific trade policies which honor the sovereignty of countries while increasing the volume of trade and travel among the participating countries. Some critics argue that, due to globalization, “trade results in an inward shift in the demand curve for low-skilled labor” in advanced countries such as America (Rodrik, p. 12). That is, third-world countries offering low-skilled but cheaper labor displace the high-skilled laborers in developed countries.

In effect, third-world countries benefit while first-world countries suffer, making globalization an ethical issue. If this criticism is to be believed, it only goes to show that, indeed, third-world countries have the upper hand when it comes to labor. As far as production is concerned, cheap labor is one of the few things that third-world countries have to offer. Advanced countries, on the other hand, may face the challenge of having a fragment of its population becoming unemployed. Yet that is exactly why globalization implies the compression of the world.

Wide disparities in terms of labor have begun to narrow down due to globalization, further balancing the differences among countries. Apparently, a globalized community where countries are more balanced than before is certainly the ethical option to be considered as it dissolves economic discrimination. The criticism that globalization may not actually help poor countries in a grand scale is not without evidence. Despite the much advancement out of globalization, there are still poor countries left behind.

For instance, Africa remains “least affected by the globalization of production” and “the new global financial and investment flows” (Kitching, p. 127). There are countless other nations left untouched by the forces of globalization as a direct result of their isolation. In a way, it is true that globalization may not immediately assist third-world countries to prosper by an inch while the rest of the first-world countries thrive with wealth. So why should third-world countries even bother to open themselves to globalization when it could not be of much help?

The answer is that further isolation or resistance to globalization can only worsen the situation for third-world countries. The positive effects of globalization do not happen overnight, not the least because globalization itself did not happen overnight, too. In fact, the internationalization of sales, finance and production was only seen during the mid-1970s (Went, p. 337). It took a long time even for a developed country such as the United States to ready itself for globalization.

As for third-world countries, the time may even be longer. But that should not discourage poor countries from embracing globalization. The classic wisdom “patience is a virtue” may very well apply to the situations third-world countries face in this globalized era. Fervent efforts to open-up to the international community combined with adequate internal security measures will be of great help for third-world countries to reap the harvest of increased trade from imports and exports as well as increased tourism from traveling foreigners.

Globalization brings countries closer together, in a manner of speaking. It provides favorable opportunities for third-world countries in dire need of outside financial sources. International trade and increased tourism are only two of the many ways in which poor countries can benefit from globalization. While globalization has certain negative consequences, the benefits it offers outweigh probable risks involved. Third-world countries should open themselves to globalization without abandoning the need to secure their welfare and sovereignty.

Works Cited Kitching, Gavin. Seeking Social Justice through Globalization. Univesity Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2003. Robertson, Roland. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. Washington, DC: SAGE, 1992. Rodrik, Dani. Has Globalization Gone Too Far? Washington, DC: Peterson Institute, 1997. Waters, Malcolm. Globalization. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2001. Went, Robert. “Economic Globalization Plus Cosmopolitanism? ” Review of International Political Economy 11. 1 (2004): 337-55.

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