Monday, August 26, 2013

Role of the State and trade agreements

The role of the State and government in a globalised world is a subject matter of great debate especially depending on which side of the spectrum you come from. Is the role of the State incompatible with free trade and globalisation? Can they co-exist? Does free trade and globalisation necessarily mean reduction of the role of the State in economic activity and governance?

I had written about this a long time ago in this blog piece that I "searched out" here - on State Capitalism and globalisation. A more recent piece is the rather critical one wherein Martin Khor alleges that regional trade agreements are reducing the role of the State, especially State Owned Enterprises with provisions relating to them found in these agreements.

Titled "The Role of the State in Developing Countries under Attack from New FTAs", he argues:
"Naturally, there are pros and cons to any agreement, including the FTAs. Any potential gain for a country in exports or investments should be weighed against potential losses to domestic producers and consumers, and especially the loss to the government in policy space and potential pay-outs to companies claiming compensation under the FTAs' investment rules. 
But if developing countries have to come under new international rules that curb the role of the state and that re-shape the structure of their economy, then the prospects for future development will be adversely affected."
The role of the State, State owned enterprises and government are a source of constant challenge in discussions on liberlaisation and globalisation. How do international trade agreements address this question? Does GATT/WTO distinguish between a State led economy and a liberalised economy? Does it prefer one over the other? Is there place for a mixed economy in this discourse? Can we build a model for a mixed discourse?

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