The term globalisation, for the last twenty years, is being increasingly used by both international enterprises facing competition in the global market and also by narratives which support indigenous culture and suggest ways to guard against negative effects of foreign investment and liberalised trade.
In specific societies, even fast-food expansion has been resisted not only for economic reasons but for fear of invasion of alien cultural values. However, in its essential sense, the leitmotif of such narratives is always to forestall or at least minimise the inundation of a way life they do not approve of or are not familiar with. This, they argue, is impinging upon the true face of their national identity.
At the end of the cold-war, the possibilities for relatively bigger ventures began to expand. The opening of markets hitherto shut and closed was another scenario for competitors to contend with. Transnational or even national companies began to devise means to deal with the forces of international competition. As the liberalisation of international economy got under way, the role and conduct of transnational companies began to be discussed. The host country needs investments and fresh technology to enhance its economic growth and creation of new job opportunities. The transnational companies were also beginning to feel the pressure to give greater attention to their responsibility towards the people of the host country. They must accordingly respond generously to sensitivities of the local demands and market conditions. Of course, where and how to steer and lead the process is the responsibility of the state itself. Its ability to meet the challenges in these fast changing times and in a competitive world can help tremendously in the economic development of the country.
In the post-modern era, the issues of globalisation have become really complex and require careful resolution. With the end of the cold-war and for market economy to show its merits in combating economic and other problems, its efficacy and performance in specific environments and in specific regions, needs careful attention. In the post-1990 era, only the tools of the market economy are available to explore methodologies to devise a philosophy, or in economic terms a plan, to tackle the multi-faceted issues. The information revolution is creating centers of economic activity in the developing economies. It is difficult to gauge or determine the multiplier effect at this stage of development. But it is abundantly clear it would not be lacking in its inherent ability to generate its own momentum towards innovation and development of marketable products.
The emerging middle class in the developing countries is beginning to influence the working environment in innumerable ways. By the end of this decade as the state revenue is bolstered by a growing economy, enhanced spending on infrastructure and improvements in the urban facilities like transport and education is expected to take a boost as well.
Pakistani entrepreneurs have just begun to explore the possibilities of expanding their activities abroad. For instance, it is encouraging that some entrepreneurs in the garments industry have taken advantage of available factors and relocated themselves in lesser developed economies. Similarly, the other sectors of economy need to enhance their trans-border activities and ventures.
The center of gravity of the world economy is perceptibly felt to be shifting to Asia but there are contesting interests and factions in this region. The great challenge for the vast number of these Asian players is to assist and help usher in a gradual and smoother transition to this phase of development. Pakistan is placed in the heart and center of this region. It has a great potential of a hardworking human resource and is favourably equipped with adequate supply of natural resources. In every possible manner it must come up with comprehensive plans to fully understand this newly-found role and the responsibilities attached with the challenge.
The writer has served as consultant to the United Nation and other developing economies on the issues of trade and development. He can be reached at [email protected]