Global food prices remain high and volatile, affecting the poorest countries the most. Global prices might not be at their 2008 record high, but they are still well above their levels a year ago. For millions who are already vulnerable, events like the droughts in the Horn of Africa add to their hardships while continued market turmoil increases uncertainty in the global economy.
Last week, world leaders gathered in Cannes, France to discuss the future of the global economy. Key on the agenda were issues surrounding the European sovereign debt crisis, new capital requirements for banks, commodity and food price volatility, and climate change.
As the 2008-9 financial crisis spread from its epicenter in the United States to the rest of the world, policy makers found themselves in uncharted waters. The effects of the global contraction were so severe that the world experienced the largest drop in global trade volumes since World War II, with world trade of goods falling by 23 percent in 2009.
Europe and Asia provide two different models of integration and growth. The former relied on political willpower to create a unified common market; the latter based its integration on a buildup of regional trade, investments, and production networks—eschewing a formal link-up in political or monetary terms.
From Singapore to Shenzhen, Special Economic Zones—SEZs for short—have helped underpin the rapid export-oriented growth of East Asia. In an effort to replicate these sleepy-fishing-village-turn-thriving-metropolis success stories, many countries in the developing world have created economic zones of their own—and their growth has been dramatic.
Gender inequality and discrimination can affect many areas of life, from a women’s access to basic health services to her prospects for education and future earnings. Accordingly, in order to overcome these disparities, development practitioners have begun to collect gender-disaggregated data and address gender elements in the design and implementation of aid programs.
South Sudan became the world’s newest nation on 9 July 2011, making it Africa’s 54th country. Independence brings enormous opportunities to South Sudan to increase its integration into the regional economy but also substantial challenges to put in place a policy and security regime that facilitates cross-border trade. The 2005 peace accord that ended Africa's longest-running civil war has led to a significant growth in demand in South Sudan, ushering in a new era of increased regional trade, in particular, with Uganda.
The global economic crisis uncovered many of the vulnerabilities of an increasingly integrated world. So much so, that even though we are now well on the path to recovery, many questions persist regarding the future risks of economic integration and openness.
There are reasons for a broad reassessment of economic integration.
The recent crisis dramatically illustrated how trade can be a powerful channel through which major external shocks are transmitted to countries, both negative and positive, as the resurgence in trade has been very robust and been a central feature of the global economic recovery.
It’s no secret that current account imbalances exist around the world. In many cases, these imbalances may be benign and merely reflect market-driven differences in savings and investment or differences in stages of development. In other cases, persistent global imbalances may be unsustainable and may threaten growth in the long-run. Thus, it’s no surprise that addressing imbalances has been a key focus in recent G-20 discussions.