Two-Way Development

NATIONALISM surges through international politics today, as peoples subsumed in larger conglomerate states clamor for self-determination. But another species of nationalism - the economic nationalism that strives to protect home markets and ward off foreign interlopers - is on the wane, according to this year's "World Development Report," put out by the World Bank.The bank itself has been an instrument of this change in recent years, encouraging structural economic reforms in developing countries. These reforms aim at loosening government control over economies, reducing deficits, and opening the way for greater trade and investment. These trends reflect the economic philosophies of the wealthy, capitalist nations that underwrite the World Bank, particularly the United States. They're closely tied to political reforms that allow greater private enterprise and local decisionmaking. Overall, the changes are positive, creating the possibility of greater prosperity in the future. But a caveat may be in order. While the bank's report clearly spells out what developing nations ought to do to prepare for economic vitality, it puts secondary emphasis to the responsibilities of developed nations. If capital is to flow into areas of the world where reform is underway, wealthier countries can't dawdle about opening their own markets to goods from abroad, increasing loans and grants to third-world nations, and trying even harder to come up with significant debt relief. Is the European Community, for example, ready to drop agricultural policies that shut out foreign competitors? Can the US be more forthcoming with debt relief plans? Is Japan willing to truly open its markets? The processes of reform outlined by the World Bank are still young, and the economic and political resistance to them is strong. World development has to be a two-way street, with active participation by both the haves and have-nots.

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