If rich countries had followed free market policies in the initial stages of economic growth, they would never have become rich in the first place. The evidence is too overwhelming to deny (see 'Kicking Away the Ladder').
World rulers today want corporate markets, not free markets. Free markets are what they are trying to get rid of.
Shouldn't developed countries be forbidden by the WTO to subsidise their agriculture so heavily in order to falsely maintain the illusion of comparative advantage, when in fact the developing countries are comparatively far more efficient in the production of food (even if the productivity of labour in a far less mechanised agriculture is much lower in the poor countries)? In all fairness, especially keeping in view the large proportion of their population that lives by agriculture, shouldn't developing countries have a greater right to subsidise their agriculture and protect their markets than the wealthy countries?
Unfortunately, the rules that have been imposed on the poor nations of the world make all this most unlikely. Without a radical challenge to the undemocratic character of international multilateral institutions - especially the IMF and World Bank (dominated as they are by the Western powers) - it is hopeless to expect fairness in economic matters.
'Do as we say, not as we have done'
"Occasionally, America has experimented with free-market ideology and deregulation -- sometimes with disastrous effects. President Reagan's deregulation of the savings and loan associations led to bank failures that contributed to the recession of 1991.
"Those in Mexico, Brazil, India and other emerging markets should be told a different message: do not strive for a mythical free-market economy, which has never existed. Do not follow the encomiums of US special interests because, although they preach free markets, back home they rely on the government to advance their aims.
"Instead, developing economies should look carefully, not at what the US says, but at what it did in the years when it emerged as an industrial power, and what it does today. There is a remarkable similarity between those policies and the activist measures pursued by the highly successful East Asian economies over the past two decades."
-- Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2001, and the author, most recently, of Making Globalisation Work. He was also Bill Clinton's main Economic Advisor. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1073042,00.html
The IMF, the World Bank and SAPs
"Chile was the guinea pig of a free market paradigm that was foisted on other third world countries beginning in the early-1980s through the agency of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Some 90 developing and post-socialist economies were eventually subjected to free-market, 'structural adjustment'. From Ghana to Argentina, state participation in the economy was drastically curtailed, government enterprises passed to private hands in the name of efficiency, protectionist barriers on Northern imports were eliminated wholesale, restrictions on foreign investment were lifted, and, through export-first policies, the domestic economy was more tightly integrated into the capitalist world market.
"Structural adjustment policies (SAPs), which set the stage for the accelerated globalisation of developing country economies during the 1990s, created the same poverty, inequality, and environmental crisis in most countries that free-market policies did in Chile, minus the moderate growth of the post-Friedman-Pinochet phase. As the World Bank chief economist for Africa admitted, "We did not think the human costs of these programmes could be so great, and the economic gains so slow in coming." So discredited were SAPs that the World Bank and IMF soon changed their names to 'Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers' in the late-1990s.
"Yet free-market and structural adjustment policies have been institutionalised so thoroughly that, despite their being now universally seen as dysfunctional, they continue to reign."
-- Walden Bello, Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines and executive director of the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=10&ItemID=11491
InfoChange News & Features, January 2007