Women in Kinshasa Eduardo Soteras/Stringer

In Defense of Globalization

Thanks to globalization, economic inequality among countries has declined sharply in the past 20 years, reflecting not only China’s rise, but also economic development across Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere. Are globalization’s critics – those who wrongly consider it a zero-sum game – against eradicating global poverty?

LONDON – I was recently in beautiful Chile for a Futures Congress, and I had a chance to travel south to the very tip of Latin America. I also recently made a BBC radio documentary called “Fixing Globalization,” in which I crisscrossed the United Kingdom in search of ideas for improving certain aspects of it and discussed topical issues with well-known experts. In both cases, I saw things that convinced me that it is past time for someone to come to globalization’s defense.

Chile today is Latin America’s richest country, with per capita GDP of around $23,000 – similar to that of Central European countries. This is quite an achievement for a country that depends so heavily on copper production, and it sets Chile apart from many of its neighbors. Like many other countries, Chile is facing economic challenges, and its growth rate leaves something to be desired; but it also has many promising opportunities beyond its borders.

For example, when I led a review on antimicrobial resistance, I learned that copper has powerful antibacterial properties and is an ideal material for use in health-care facilities where bacteria often spread. This means that copper producers such as Chile, Australia, and Canada can improve global health – and boost exports – by introducing affordable copper infrastructure into hospitals and other clinical settings around the world.