lunes, 2 de abril de 2007

Interesantes preguntas realizadas a Nancy Birdsall sobre Globalización y Equidad (¡hay una mía!)


Interview with Nancy Birdsall on Globalization and Inequality
30 March 2007, 11:00 AM EDT
Read more about Nancy Birdsall
Transcript
Josh:
What's the single most important thing that the U.S. could do to slow or reverse the trend towards increased inequality globally?
Nancy Birdsall:
The single most important thing the U.S. can do is "be" development-friendly" in all of its policies. Why? Good development-friendly policies will make it easier for the poorest countries to grow faster. If African countries for example grow faster, inequality in the world will fall. Development-friendly policies include: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will harm poor countries and people most; improving the way foreign aid is organized and delivered; opening access to U.S. markets for sugar, cotton and other agricultural products and so on. You can learn more about this by looking up on our website something called the Commitment to Development Index. The components of the Index provide good hints about what U.S. policies might matter. And you can find out how the U.S. scores on those policies compared to other rich countries.
Lindsay:
What effect does migration have on inequality?
Nancy Birdsall:
Migration of poor people to rich countries almost surely reduces global inequality if we measure inequality across all the peoples in the world. On the other hand, it could be that emigration of the richest, best educated people from poor countries leaves those countries less able to cope with their development challenges. On this second front, we don't know yet the specific circumstances under which "brain drain" emigration is good even for the sending country, or is bad. Michael Clemens here at the Center is studying this issue.
Jim Cashel:
What can the private sector do to help in global development that isn't dependent on governments or government policy?
Nancy Birdsall:
That's a great question. My own view is that private sector actors can be an important force for change in developing countries -- including by using their leverage to demand from governments fair competition, fighting corruption, and providing adequate infrastructure, education and so on. That's true for domestic private businesses and for multinational corporations. In settings where governments aren't listening or willing, global businesses can help by joining cooperative efforts like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Dave:
Does Latin America have more of a tendency towards inequality than other regions (or countries)? If so, why? How does it compare with the US?
Nancy Birdsall:
Yes. Latin America is the most unequal region in the world. Almost every country has high income and wealth inequality. Sub-Saharan Africa also suffers from high inequality, but the data from Africa are less reliable.The problem is history. In Latin America, going back to colonial times, income was concentrated among a small elite. In part that was because the plantation economy by definition (sugar cane, coffee) led to concentration of income, as does still today natural resource wealth (copper, oil). The contrast of East Asia is notable. Korea and Taiwan invested in their people, through education, in part for lack of natural resource wealth.If you take away the top 10 percent of households in most countries of Latin America, then the common measure of overall inequality compares to the U.S. -- i.e. all the "excess" of inequalityin Latin America compared to the U.S. is due to the high concentration at the top. In Brazil, the top 10 percent of househodls capture more than 50 percent of income -- compared to perhaps 30 percent in the U.S.
Sam:
What should be done to ensure that free trade agreements don't hurt the rural poor in developing countries?
Nancy Birdsall:
The first best solution is to undo the current protection of agriculture in the U.S. Europe and Japan, so that producers in the rich world don't have an advantage over local producers in the poor world. When there is a free trade agreement with countries like Colombia and Peru -- these are now under heated discussion in the U.S. Congress -- ideally those agreements would be complemented by support, in this case from the U.S., for those countries' programs to help people make the transition from low-productivity agriculture to high productivity agriculture and other work. This is what the norhtern EUropeans did for Spain, Italy and Greece in the context of the Euopean Union. Extending the period of time over which protection of developing countries is removed under a trade agreement for their own agriculture -- particularly the products produced mostly by the poor -- can help.
Sheila:
Nancy, I've heard you talk before about the importance of having a middle class for development to really take off. What are the key ingredients to making that happen, and without inequality?
Nancy Birdsall:
This is one of the toughest questions before the development community. One key ingredient seems to be creating an environment where small businesses can flourish. The ingredients for that include access to credit (not just putting more capital into microfinance but ensuring competition in banking so banks go downmarket and creating the right system of prudential regulation and supervision), avoiding tax harassment and other regulatory burdens, and so on. It's about fostering growth of a middle class that has economic clout -- and then helps lock in accountable responsive government. Back to education and other basics....
Samantha:
While someone else has asked about the single most important thing the US can do globally, please also elaborate on what you suggest the US can do to help support fair growth specifically in Latin America.
Nancy Birdsall:
Samantha: I'm so glad you asked that question. Fair Growth is the title of a forthcoming book of mine, co-authored with Augusto de la Torre and Rachel Menezes. Please check back to our website in about a month!
Rafael Pastor:
If a country sustains a productive system based on authentic competitiveness (not based exclusively on commodity production), does this necessarily entail that it’s society will be more equitable?
Nancy Birdsall:
There is no single magic bullet for ensuring an equitable society. But it does help to have a productive system that is competitive -- to have what economists like to call a "level playing field" for everyone. And that is much harder politically to secure and sustain when reliance on commodities and minerals means a small elite controls a lot of a country's wealth. Among commodities, of course, there are differences. In 19th century America, wheat was most productively grown on small farms -- that turns out to have been more conducive to an equitable system and a democratic one, than sugar and cotton produced on large plantations with unskilled labor -- slaves, indigenous people. At least one country, Botswana, has managed an equitable system and sustained good governance and democracy, based on diamond wealth. So it can be done.

Michael Clemens:
In your congressional testimony two days ago, you called for the US to take actions to help Latin America "eliminate insider privileges". What can the US really do in this regard? Aren't our interlocutors those very insiders?
Nancy Birdsall:
The U.S. can support explicitly the governments and businesses in LAtin America that represent well their citizens and workers. President Lula of Brazil has an op ed in today's Washington Post about a good joint Brazil-U.S. initiative to develop better global technologies for clean fuels -- an alternative to the oil-based economy of Venezuela for example. In this case, the U.S. seems to the trying to work with an interlocutor who represents the majority of his people and is committed to an open market approach rather than to populism and demogoguery.Of course in this case best of all would be for the U.S. to reduce or eliminate its current tariff against sugar-based ethanol produced in Brazil. Presidnet Lula was polite in not making that an issue in his op ed. By doing that we would be showing the people of Latin America that the U.S. can get beyond its short-term selfish interests and support its friends in the region.
Matt G.:
I see in your brochure that CGD researches "links between trade policy and global poverty reduction". Could you please share some specific findings?
Nancy Birdsall:
Bill Cline (see our website) says in his book that a completely liberalized trading environment could reduce poverty in the world by almost 500 million people in the next decade. The World Bank has said that the liberalization envisioned in the Doha round (which is floundering) could reduce the numbers of poor by about 80 million. There are of course many different assumptions behind these estimates. But even 80 million fewer people in poverty would be an achievement. See Kim Elliott's book (also at our website) for a fine discussion of the specific issues of trade, agriculture and the world's poor -- and what must be done by the U.S. if any deal to help the poor benefit from their own producitivy in agriculture is to be completed.
Jeff:
With increased Globalization and the advancements in technology and communication structures could access to inexpensive wireless technologies enable developing world merchants and producers access the global market by offering their goods online or will international trade standards still apply?
Nancy Birdsall:
There is already a healthy amount of such online retailing of local artisan and other products directly from poor villages all over the developing world, to consumers in the rich world. Luckily, most of such products do not face high tariff or health-standard barriers. What is interesting is how and whether this system of online purchasing can expand to, for example, organic specialty food and other products where rich country protection is higher and health concerns can be used, sometimes as an excuse, to limit trade. Kim Elliott here at the Center is starting a study of such specialty "fair trade" products as Starbuck's coffee. . . so I will pass your question to her!
Conor:
If you were to propose one alternative policy to the USG to reduce inequality in Latin America, what would it be? What are the domestic political constraints to its implementation?
Nancy Birdsall:
Conor: I can't confine myself to just one. I do think that we need to go well beyond the approach President Bush emphasized on his recent trip -- of handouts in the form of traditional foreign aid programs. Our aid programs should be more clearly aimed at the great majority in LAtin America, to create opportuniteis and build a middle class. The amount is less important than the visibility of our support for Latin America to build more fair and just systems -- looking more like the U.S. in terms of a middle class, opportunities for upward mobility and so on. We cannot compete with Chavez's billions with our dollops of aid. We have to compete on the basis of our better values.Second, we have to concrete intaking steps to signal to the people of Latin America that we favor equal opportunities beyond our borders. These are steps that are much harder politically for the U.S. to take: a sensible immigration bill; a more open market for agricultural and other goods from Latin America; and less emphasis on the drug war in Bolivia and Colopmbia and more emphasis on helping do land reform and reducing tax evasion of those countries' richest households.
Bill Boteler:
How can we prevent the current boom in biofuels trade from harming people and the environment in developing countries?
Nancy Birdsall:
I don't have a good answer to this good question. As a start it seems important to ensure that inefficient biofuels (e.g. corn to produce ethanol which is less efficient and more environmentally harmful than sugar) are not subsidized in one way or another. I believe much more resources of the rich world should be dedicated to resaerch and development focused on the energy/agriculture nexus. It's surprising how little of the rich countries' foreign aid budgets go to this kind of investment in global punblic goods compared to country-based aid, which of course is sometimes politically more attractive. The WOrld Bank and otehr international isntitutions should also put more effort into this sort of global public good. We put that on the agenda for this current World Bank President in our 2005 report.
Matt G.:
The Center's work focuses on "the policies of the U.S. and other rich countries". Please list some of these "other rich countries" and their intended roles on your agenda.
Nancy Birdsall:
Matt; Take a look at our Commitment to Development Index to get the answer to this question.
Learn more about the Center for Global Development's work on Globalization and Inequality.
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1 comentario:

tkopetchny dijo...

Hi Rafael,

Thanks for sharing this with your audience and thank you for your question. We are hosting another live interview with Liliana Rojas-Suarez about the IMF and Latin America soon.

Best
Tony Kopetchny
Center for Global Development