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Globalization: The Promises and The Perils, U.S. and Asian Responses

Informatics Creative Commons photo-patchwork. (musha68000/Flickr)

Informatics Creative Commons photo-patchwork. (musha68000/Flickr)

What were some of the lessons then that we learned? Asia's love affair with the global market tends to downplay the negative side of globalization, including its effect on the poor and on the environment. It also pushed aside Asia's first love - social investment - as the foundation for sustainable prosperity. I think this is a lesson that we've learned. Now that the passions have cooled a little, perhaps we can look at some of the positive, as well as the negative effects of globalization and find some pointers to the future, not only for East Asia, but also for all Asian countries.

East Asia's prosperity, as I said - and I think this is born out by many studies including the world bank study recently - was built on social investment. Recent experience has shown how easily the effect of these investments can be undermined. But it has also demonstrated their underlying value. East Asian countries are now bouncing back. I think with more emphasis on poverty, eradication and gender equality in the years to come, they will be better able to protect themselves from future shocks. As they say in America, remember who brought you to the dance.

Renewed emphasis on social investment will also allow East Asian countries to invest in their older people of whom there are now an increasing number and for whom there is still little provision. The extended family is still continuing but we are already testing the limits of what can be expected from it.

One of the costs of breakdown of expansion has been the environmental damage. I think we all know what has happened in Indonesia and the consequences of those actions. I hope that East Asian countries are alive to these efforts. They could perhaps learn from the experience of Europe and Japan, where investment and conservation is paying economic dividends. I think these are some lessons from the globalization and from the interchange that we need to examine and apply.

There is no reason why Asian countries should repeat some of the mistakes that have been made by some of the industrialized countries.

One of the other outcomes of the globalization process has been the greater mobility of labor and as you know, this is one of the great political divides between the north and the south in the UN; while we advocate very strongly on the free market system in a globalized environment, we are less open about the other side of the coin, which is the labor markets which go along with the free market system.

Migration has been of course a mixed blessing for both the sending and the receiving countries, especially because there is no comprehensive international agreement covering labor movements and the right of migrants. These economies drew workers from across the regions, some of who now are in a difficult position. And of course, still there's migration and movement problems between countries in the Asian region as much as they are between the countries of the South and the North.