Through the advancement of technologies and communications, and the expansion of the free market, economic globalization has many lasting impacts on current societies and the wellbeing of global citizens. There are various views on the result of trade liberalization.
The cartoonist in source one is highlighting the negative impacts of free trade through the illustration of a worker working abroad handcuffed to the World Trade Organization and a United States worker beaten by NAFTA. This represents the controversial topic of free trade and economic globalization in America and around the world. NAFTA and World Trade Organization promise better quality of life through the expansion of capitalism and free trade. However worker’s rights and fundamental freedoms have been discriminated in the process of doing so. Economic globalization had led to the outsourcing of resources and human labour to countries abroad where companies could make more profit because of reduced wages and less operation costs. This leads to heavy unemployment rate in the United States which creates a butterfly effect in the entire country. Workers that get laid off collect employment insurance and rely on social assistance from government, resulting in a lower quality of life. An example of this is when General Motors Corporation decided to close their plants in Canada and United States due to economic hardships in America and the inability to compete with other manufacturers. The company had to lay off many workers because of heavy health care bills in US and the high wages employees demanded. The worker abroad chained to a ball embedded with the words “slave, wages, no worker rights” represent the hardships and the negative impacts free trade have on workers in second world countries. Many transactional companies prevent workers from joining trade unions and provide wages that are lower than the minimum requirement. Many companies also purchase materials produced by factories that uses child labour which is a violation of human rights.
The second source is a quote by Johan Norberg, a supporter of globalization. His view of transnational companies is that their investment in poor countries could provide innovative ideas and advanced technologies to the country which would benefit their economy as a whole and raise productivity in the country. Multinationals could bring management skills that could increase human capital by passing their expertise and provide training or education of entrepreneur skills to local citizens. He provides evidence of how economic globalization had benefited Vietnam and how the outsourcing of Nike had resulted in a better quality of life for Vietnam workers. An example that is similar to his idea is the increase of telecommunication technologies in India. American companies outsource jobs to India due to India’s comparative advantage over American workers. Computer software workers in India benefit from globalization because transnational companies could provide higher wages and employment than local business could. In return, they are able to spend their salaries on luxuries and necessities that would increase their quality of life. This would also generate more spending and revenue in the country where local businesses could expand and thrive in the economy. Foreign subsidiaries also pay taxes to local government which would increase the country’s wealth itself and allowing the country to be more globalized overtime.
The cartoonist in source three uses irony to deliver his views on economic globalization. The person in the source three is holding a sign that says “boycott Beijing 2008 Olympics” while wearing a “Free Tibet” shirt. The irony in this is that everything in the image is made in China, which contradicts the person’s’ argument. The source represents consumer activism where the consumer could choose which products to buy or not to buy in reflect to their worldview. This can be achieved through organization such as the Public Citizen in the United States that represent consumer interests or Council of Canadians in Canada. The source also illustrates the idea that economic globalization can conflict with other issues in the world. For example, Tibet is a nation that wants independence from China because they identify themselves as a group with their own unique language and culture. They actively advocates this to the public, however other countries turn a blind eye to this due to heavy economic ties with China. Many products are manufactured in China because it offers cheaper labour and allow multinational companies to gain more profit. With the increase of trade liberalization, it is almost impossible to purchase products that are purely made locally. Therefore, it is difficult for people to protest against free trade policies for they are an essential part of our society.
It is evident in all three sources that economic globalization is presented and its impacts and result are also discussed. It is important to note that there are both positive and negative impacts of globalization on developing or developed countries. Source one portrays the negative impacts of free trade where workers abroad have no workers rights and suffer from the lack of adequate wages. Through the establishment of free trade organizations, developed countries’ citizens might lose their job to workers abroad due to cheaper operation cost for transnational companies. For example, clothing manufacturing factories in Canada were outsourced to places like India because companies wanted to have direct access to cheap raw materials and labour that would allow them to gain profit. The insufficient safety requirements in India had resulted in many fires or collapse of factories and have caused countless deaths of workers. Without minimum wage legislations or government interventions, transnational companies are able to run the company however to their liking and deny Indian worker’s rights, making them no less of a slave. However, Johan Norberg makes a point in source two where he states that globalization could actually benefit countries overtime. He states that the positive result of trade liberalization and outsourcing is only visible with time. For example, Hong Kong started out as one of the poorest countries before the twenty-first century, but through the increase of transnational companies in Hong Kong, they are able to prosper and develop into one of the leading economy in the world today. Multinational investment not only bring improve financial stability for themselves; they can also bring employment and investment opportunities to other countries. Source three represents the immense influence of economic globalization where it is difficult to prevent since it is an irreversible trend. However, consumers are still able to advocate for their own belief through boycotting of certain products.
In conclusion, the increase of trade liberalization and flow of capital between countries have resulted in the world to become more interconnected and globalized. There are both beneficial results and harmful impacts of economic globalization which also concerns fundamental human rights and the quality of life of global citizens.