Globalization With a 'Human Face' Urged
Addis tribune (02/18/00) By Our Staff Reporter
Globalization must have a 'human face' and help improve the daily lives of the 1.3 billion people worldwide who live on less
than $1 a day, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn told Wednesday the tenth ministerial meeting of the UN
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), according to informed sources at the World Bank. The World Bank
Friday approved US$3 million in funding for the Second Public Sector Reform and Capacity Building Project in Cape Verde.
"Globalization is here to stay. Thus, the challenge to us all is to harness the positive aspects of globalization in the cause of
development and poverty reduction, and to offset its less positive aspects for those adversely affected. We need globalization
that promotes social equity and works for the poor," Wolfensohn told participants.
The World Bank president recognized the feelings of many who had expressed concerns about globalization, which can create
losers and winners. The key is to cushion the ups and downs of trade liberalization by making sure that the poor still had access to basic services such as health care and education.
Wolfensohn urged leaders at this week's UNCTAD summit to focus especially on liberalizing trade in agriculture—an area that
could be a boon for the world's poor. While agriculture made up only eight percent of upper-middle income country
economies, it accounts for a whopping one-third of poor countries' gross national product.
Despite this, industrialized countries impose barriers on agricultural goods from developing countries that are five times higher
than for manufactured goods.
"It makes no sense to exhort poor countries to compete and pay their way in the world while we simultaneously deny them the
means to do so, by restricting their market access in areas such as agriculture where they have a comparative advantage," he
said. "We must work flexibly and creatively towards a world trading system that really makes a difference for developing
Wolfensohn called on the international community to give free market access for all the exports of the 40 countries currently
eligible for debt relief under the World Bank/IMF Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
Earlier this week, the World Bank Group's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), teamed up with
Japan's SOFTBANK on an initiative to narrow the global digital divide and jumpstart the new digital economy in the
developing world by spawning startup Internet companies in some 100 developing countries