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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Essay on Globalization

In 1998, Nike Inc. promised to remove underage workers and require overseas manufacturers of its products to meet strict US health and safety standards.  The action of Philip H. Knight, then chairman and chief executive of Nike Inc, was in response to the pressures against the company because of its labor practices in China and Vietnam. (Jennifer Hobbs 2)  It was reported that Nike in order to mass produce its products hired workers in Vietnam and China who were below the age of 16. It was also reported that the company had lax air-quality controls exposing the employees to toxic air pollution in its factories.  Nike Inc was also criticized for paying its employees in China and Vietnam below the minimum wage of $2 a day and in Indonesia less than $1 a day.  According to studies workers in these countries needed at least $3 a day to achieve adequate living standards. 

What led Nike Inc to transfer its production in Vietnam and China? What was the reason behind the company’s desire for mass production? What led the Vietnamese Chinese people to accept such poor wages and poor working conditions?  The answer to these questions is globalization.

The globalization debate is nothing new.  Its merits and demerits have been repeatedly discussed in boardrooms, session halls, television, radio and even the newspapers. Advocates of globalization argue that it is good for the economies of developed and developing countries in the sense that it promotes free trade giving every player in the economy access to goods serves, capital, people, information and technology.  They also say that globalization has the effect of making more goods and services available at lower cost to a wide range of people resulting to improved standard of living of the people.  Countries that are open for globalization are also able to attract investors resulting in more jobs for the people.

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In the light however of the present trend in our economy, such as the trend of outsourcing of jobs to Asian countries, job insecurity and the exploitation of labor in developing countries, is it time for us to take a look at globalization? Is globalization the solution for developing countries to be given opportunity for advancement?  Or does it only make the rich richer and the poor poorer?

The ugly but oftentimes hidden truth is that globalization does not result in an even battlefield between the industrialized countries and developing countries.  Some have found a way to compete while majority have failed.  As a result, the poor countries have become poorer while the rich western countries have also suffered economic decline as a result of outsourcing.  The exploitation of labor in developing countries has resulted to further impoverishment of people in the Third World countries.  The job insecurity is a trend which is present even in industrialized countries.  The quality of goods and services has also deteriorated as companies race to offer the cheapest goods to the consumers. 

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