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Developing nations should unite for a better world

Executive Director of South Centre, Geneva, a news and advocacy organization for a better world economic order Martin Khor stepped into Lake House on his short visit to Colombo on Tuesday. He was able to express his views and experiences both as an editor and a person who had worked towards bringing together the print media in the developing countries.

Martin Khor

In the context of globalization and the present international economic order the developing nations had to unite to achieve equity for their development efforts. In today's world national decisions are influenced by certain international actions and therefore the developing nations should unite to speak in one voice.

In this effort the media of developing countries had to play an important role in helping the exchange of news and views, he observed.

In his informal conversation about his experience and that of his country Malaysia he said the newly independent nations of the world especially those in Asia had to face a common question immediately after independence - their economies continued to be under the transnational or foreign corporate giants and the indigenous population or the governments could not achieve economic independence.

In the case of Malaysia its main economic resources were rubber and tin industries but here again the emphasis was on exporting these as raw material without value addition.

Seventy percent of the country's banking and financial sector was in the hands of two foreign banks thus the local people had no share in the economy's vital transactions, he observed.

However Malaysia rich in natural resources began a new chapter of its economy with the policies introduced by one of its leaders who wished to change the economic scenario as had happened in many developing countries after they regained their independence.

Some nations in the 1960s resorted to nationalization but the Malaysian Premier decided to buy the shares of the transnational corporations and the banks. He also adopted the policy of fixing the value of the Malaysian currency without allowing it to float to the amazement of the economists and the Central Bank but his strategy worked and Malaysian economy recorded growth and stability.

Instead of producing raw rubber as done earlier rubber sheets or other value added products were manufactured by the local private sector and soon other sectors too followed the example, Khor explained.

His talk reminded one of the efforts made by the governments of our country especially in the era prior to 1977 when leaders like Madame Sirimavo Bandaranaike of the United Front Government was able to unite the Non-Aligned nations on many issues like keeping the Indian Ocean zone free of military interference from nuclear powers.

The economic policy of self sufficiency then followed by us and neighbouring India was also among the efforts of the then developing nations to be free from intervention.

Khor said different countries had adopted different methods to achieve economic independence but it was most essential that the developing countries came together on issues like sustainable patterns of growth to prevent global warming and allow the developing countries to derive their share from their economic effort as the World Trade Organization policies and those of the international lending agencies like the IMF were heavily tilted towards the developed countries in the world where as the larger number of people lived in developing countries.

He said he had a very high respect for the internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan economist Dr. Gamini Corea and his main emphasis was that developing countries like ours should become strong in their views by uniting with other such countries to enable an equitable development to take place while taking measures to prevent damage to the environment that could cause more harm than benefit.



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