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French Version

King addresses WEF - Globalization and the vision for the Kingdom

"Globalization does not mean one size fits all," stressed the King in his speech Sunday. "Globalization means enabling every nation to make use of its strengths and fulfill its potential."

By Ghassan Joha, Star Staff Writer JORDAN (Star) - His Majesty King Abdallah's remarks at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in New York were designed to reflect the tenets of Jordan's plan for achieving an adapted economy. At a time when globalization appears to be altering the ethic of many developing economies King Abdallah's vision for the Kingdom is rooted in a clear-cut plan for Jordan based upon principles of political convergence and social cohesion.
"Globalization does not mean one size fits all," stressed the King in his speech Sunday. "Globalization means enabling every nation to make use of its strengths and fulfill its potential."

He pointed out later "Leaders of the international community must work hard to make technological and economic progress serve the basic human needs of men and women, their families and communities." Continuing to say Jordan's developing economy must conform with global developments but with an eye toward preservation of its own values and culture.

Developing nations feeling the impact of globalization are legion. Many of these have failed to pursue specific investment-oriented economic policies. Early examples of such negative impact were seen in the fall of the Asian Tigers at the end of the 1990s. These types of economic crises produced effects internationally as well as regionally. The post 11 September economic slowdown in the US has rippled all around the world.

While it is difficult to posit 'globalization' as the culprit behind such crises, it is a factor that simply cannot be overlooked. Certainly, too, consideration must be made for the preparations and adaptations, or lack thereof, these nations made after financial and governmental reforms were enacted.

"It is another sign on the inadequacy of globalization," said Dr Munir Hamarneh, professor of economics at the University of Jordan. Adding, that globalization continues to evolve with a core theme: Growing business at the lowest cost.

Jordanian economic observers see the King's speech as definitive, inducing world leaders, specifically industrialized ones, to modify policies toward developing nations. The King was clear when urging these nations to narrow the gap between the rich and poor by working closer on the economic development of developing nations and in so doing helping to subdue many of the grievances found therein.

The WEF's annual meeting highlighted the need to develop the idea of "ethical Globalization," aiming to empower the common citizen as a participant in the globalization process. Hamarneh said such an idea only works when world leaders sincerely pay attention to the needs of the poor. "Ethical Globalization must focus on the humanitarian and social aspects of developing nations as economic policies are ripening on the principle," Hamarneh told The Star.

World economists advise caution when obeying the rules of globalization's game. "Rules of the World Trade Organization are detrimental to developing economies," said anti-globalization activists in a meeting last week in Brazil.

Their intent was to highlight the damage caused by blindly following globalization's rules for development, pointing to the ravages it can cause for the welfare of the people and the stifling of innovation it has led to in many developing nations.

Jordan has been involved in the globalization process. The implementation of the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement and the Kingdom's membership in the WTO are pointed to as two major examples. Hamarneh believes the Jordanian economy has limited solutions available to remain in its current shape. He warns Jordanians will have to cope with the consequences very soon.

Larry Elliot, economic commentator for the Guardian, sees the globalization phenomenon as a double-edged sword. "This is indeed a fragile world, and it does require some global leadership," said Eliott in his column Monday. "This is a world where the second-biggest economy is on the verge of a full-scale financial collapse."

Developing economies may soon find little support for sustaining their burgeoning growth. Decades of globalized development increased the world's capacity for supply but appear to have left in its wake bulging inflation from the fiscal negligence of key participants, now trickling down to cripple developing economies.

A fundamental issue affecting social development in developing nations is funding for health and education. Economists have pointed to the manipulation of health services by powerful economies producing a "demand more-pay more principle," something that keeps developing nations down.

"Most global research and development programs are targeted at wealthy markets rather than poor consumers. Less than 10 percent of global health research addresses 90 percent of the global disease burden," said Michael Bailey of the UK's Oxfam International Group during the World Social Forum in Brazil, held simultaneous to the WEF in New York.

"[Globalization] impedes advances by creating a monopoly and not competition. It pretends to fight hunger, but really destroys international cooperation and creates hunger in the future," added Jean-Pierre Berlan of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research.

Recently cries from Jordanian economists warning the government to be more cautious in its movement toward globalization-oriented policies follow along in a similar vein. They've encouraged the government to learn from the mistakes of Argentina and the South East Asian markets.

"I believe the perception to blame globalization for widening poverty is wrong. Globalization--far from being the cause of poverty and other social ills--offers the hope of overcoming them," said Kofi Annan in his closing remarks at the WEF. "But it is up to you [world leaders] to prove it wrong, with actions that translate into concrete results for the downtrodden, exploited and excluded."

Ghassan Joha
The Star

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