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Commerce and Its Demographics
The diffusion of ideas and technological impacts that have taken place globally.
Globalization as a phenomenon of economic and cultural connectivity has been growing for centuries, but the current form is of a fundamentally different order (Smith and Doyle 2002). The speed of communication, the complexity and size of the networks involved and the huge volume of trade, interaction and risks involved make up the current and peculiar form. The diffusion of ideas, practices and technologies that occurs within is more than internationalization, universalization, modernization and westernization. Anthony Giddens (1990 as qtd in Smith and Doyle) described today's globalization as "the intensification of worldwide social relations, which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa." It has changed the way geography has been traditionally understood and how localness has been experienced. The new framework is a spread and connectedness of production, communication and technologies across the world through the interlacing of economic and cultural activity. Its unique feature is the momentum and power of the change involved -- the interaction of extraordinary technological innovation and its worldwide reach capability (Hutton and Giddens 2001 as qtd in Smith and Doyle). Gigantic and unprecedented developments in the life sciences, digital technology and such like, created vast and new production and exchange possibilities. Complementing them are innovations, like the internet, which have made access to information and other resources throughout the world possible as well as coordinate activities in real time (Smith and Doyle). It is a global shift, or one wherein the world is being moulded by economic and technological forces into a shared economic and political arena (Held 1999).
II. The relationship of these groups globally as it relates to ideas, events, overall social climate, and, most importantly, commerce.
The World Trade Organization or WTO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC share a common goal of fostering an open multilateral trade regime (National Policy Foundation 2001). But their differences in institutional structures prevent them from forming a closer tie in producing valuable economic gains. Both organizations are burdened by internal strife between the developing and developed nations and the Newly Industrializing Countries in between the groups. Enlarged memberships, made worse by an increasingly complex and diverge global economic system, have gone beyond the capability of the WTO and APEC original institutional designs. The institutional crisis they face has brought their accountability, credibility and reliability into question.
Many South Americans considered the Mercado Comun del Sur or MERCOSUR a useful bulwark against the encroachment of the U.S. In the region in the form of the Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA or bilateral treaties (Wikipedia 2005). It was a trading zone among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. But the collapse of the Argentine economy in 2002 significantly weakened MERCOSUR and many believed that the Bush administration refused to bail Argentina out because the U.S. saw MERCOSUR as a threat to its divide-and-conquer strategy to dominate the Latin America economies. In December 2004, MERCOSUR merged with the Andean Community trade bloc or CAN and formed the South American Community of Nations, patterned after the European Union or EU. An analysis of the dynamic adjustments in both regions' commodity and capital markets after trade liberation showed that tariff reductions initiated by MERCOSUR had small positive effects on U.S. production, trade, consumption and investment (Diao and Somwaru 1996). These tariff reductions stimulated MERCOSUR's growth and improved its current account.
Following its accession to membership in the WTO in 1999, China decided to use free trade agreements as a policy too. (Killion 2005). On November 29, 2004, it joined ASEAN and signed an agreement, establishing regional cooperation with it and the world largest free trade zone of 1.7 billion consumers. China chose ASEAN for its first FTA partner in addressing threats of economic and security interests perceived by ASEAN nations from China. China's model for regionalism is different from that of the EU model. In the latter, economic benefits of integration far outweighed the incidental economic costs of secondary political considerations. But China's model is primarily motivated by political considerations that threaten multilateral trade. The 2004 ASEAN-China agreement proposes a non-orthodox and non-market-led cooperative regionalism, viewed to adversely affect trade and investment liberation, the goals of the WTO, and the global economy itself (Killion). A pending global trade crisis is seen looming, initially as the trade diversion and welfare-reducing effect of the world largest FTA, as a harm or a threat to multilateral trade. The prompt amendment to WTO's Article XXIV appears necessary or the global market economy may one day find itself swallowed up by the dynamics of China's sheer size and unilateral regionalism (Killion).
Global politics is enmeshed and anchored today, not only in traditional geopolitical concerns, but also in a wide variety of economic, social and ecological questions -- pollution, drugs, terrorism and human rights -- that require international cooperation for plausible and effective solution (Held 1999). Within the current pattern of extensive political interconnectedness of the key policy-making international bodies, the national government gets increasingly locked in an array of global, regional and multi-layered systems of governance and can barely monitor itself or stand in command.
III. Have these global commercial patterns affected the overall natural environment and have commercial trends impacted the individual nations within these organizations drastically on either a negative or passive side.
Globalization has affected the global natural environment in a number of forms, i.e., encounters between previously separated ecological systems from different parts of the planet; the pollution and degradation of global commons, like the oceans and the atmosphere; the overspill of the effects of environmental degradation from one state to another, as by environmental refugees; trans-boundary pollution and risks, as nuclear power, and acid rain; the transportation and diffusion of wastes and polluting products across the globe, such as toxic waste trade and global relocation of dirty industries; and the formation of global institutions, regimes, networks and treaties that aim at regulating these forms of environmental degradation ( Held 1999). In the past, environmental impacts were through the accidental transport and transfer of flora, fauna and microbes and disastrous plagues are the best examples. The globalization of environmental affairs made a huge leap with the European colonization of the New World and brought about the vast exchange of flora, fauna and microbes across the Atlantic Ocean. Within a single generation, huge numbers of indigenous populations from the Caribbean, Mexico and other parts of Latin America were wiped out and ecosystems, landscapes and agricultural systems in these societies changed by European agriculture, flora and fauna in the succeeding centuries (Held).
After the Second World War, the globalization of the environmental degradation was greatly increased by the 50 years of massive resource-intensive, high-pollution growth in the OECD; the industrialization of Russia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states; the rapid industrialization of many parts of the South; and the great increase of the global population (Held 1999). An unprecedented set of global and regional environmental problems now confronts all the nations of the world and it has a scope that is greater and more encompassing than any single nation or generation. The solutions to these problems cannot be tackled at the national level alone. They include global warming, ozone depletion, destruction of global rainforests and the loss of biodiversity, oceanic and river pollution, and global nuclear threats and risks (Held).
Over the last century, these global environmental transformations have been accompanied by an equally unprecedented increase in global and regional environmental movements, regimes and international agreements (Held 1999). But as it is, none of these institutions has been able to develop enough political power, draw sufficient domestic support or international power to do more than simply…[continue]
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