June 17, 2004


'Global South' flexes its trade muscle in Brazil: At trade talks this week, the world's poorer countries worked to expand trade among themselves. (Abraham McLaughlin, 6/18/04, CS Monitor)

At trade talks among 180 nations in Brazil this week, the world's poorer countries - often called the global South, even if some are above the equator - are working to expand trade among themselves. They're also flexing their bigger trade muscles in preparation for coming talks with rich neighbors up north, like the US and the European Union.

Consider that last year, for the first time in history, the US spent more on goods and services from poorer countries than from rich ones - more toys, stereos, and cars from places like China, Brazil, and South Africa than from Germany or Japan. The South's overall share of global trade has risen from 20 percent in the mid-1980s to 30 percent today, according to a new United Nations report.

As the South increasingly leverages this power, it could start to tilt the long-term balance of prosperity away from Iowa corn growers or Florida sugar producers, and toward Brazilian maize farmers and cotton growers in the African nation of Mali.

It all represents what the UN calls "the new geography of international trade." Or as Harvard University economist Robert Lawrence puts it, "It's no longer the 'G-2' " - the US and the European Union making all key decisions on global trade. Today, he says, "We have a multipolar system," in which "players like South Africa, Brazil, India, and China are much more active and capable." [...]

A deal may also be crucial to the world's poorest people. Traditional means of development - aid money doled out by rich nations - don't seem to be enough. UN development chief Mark Malloch Brown said this week that rich nations aren't meeting Millennium Development Goals they set in 2000, which aim to cut world poverty in half by 2015. In Africa, he said, at current rates, the goals won't be met for 43 years - in the year 2047.

That's why trade deals are essential. "These are the issues," says Francis Kornegay of the University of the Witwatersrand here, "that make the world go 'round."

It'll be great fun to hear the anti-globalization whackos go after the poor nations for advocating freer trade than even the developed world has been pushing for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 17, 2004 11:51 PM

Actually South Africa is becoming less and less
capable of trading on the world stage.

"TRADITIONAL means of development, aid money
doled out by rich nations" ? Not a tradition
just a fad.

Posted by: J.H. at June 18, 2004 9:10 AM

Mr. Judd;

Wouldn't it just sound like this?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 18, 2004 10:38 AM

How many cars did we import from China, Brazil and S. Africa?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 18, 2004 2:19 PM

"Traditional means of development - aid money doled out by rich nations"

Huh?? How is sitting on the corner with your tin cup out anything like "development"?

Posted by: ray at June 19, 2004 1:34 AM