Magazine article UN Chronicle

And Global Economic Cooperation

Magazine article UN Chronicle

And Global Economic Cooperation

Article excerpt

Imagine what the world of international commerce would be like without the United Nations system or a group of comparable organizations with universal state memberships.

Imagine there were no global institutions where States could legitimize their jurisdictional rights in different areas of the planet, the atmosphere and outer space. Would there not be a great deal of uncertainty and conflict that would reduce the willingness of businesses to engage in international trade and investment?

Imagine States and firms did not agree on the definitions and measurement of national and international economic phenomena. Would firms and States not find it much more difficult to evaluate economic policies, including acceptance of international economic norms and rules?

Imagine there were no international institutions that harmonized or unified the laws applicable to international commercial transactions. Would the cost and delays of doing business not raise the cost of internationally traded goods and even discourage firms from entering some foreign markets?

Imagine there were no institutions that established technical standards that assured interconnection in international communications and transportation systems and that largely eliminated damages to international carriers and traded goods and services. Would the global economy not be severely curtailed and hence the welfare of people significantly damaged?

United Nations bodies are involved extensively in regulating the same types of economic problems at the international level that States regulate at the national level. Today, nearly a fifth of the total of global gross national product (GNP) is traded, international investment has been climbing fourfold in recent decades, and the annual value of the foreign output of transnational firms is several times that of global trade. This expansion has brought significant welfare gains for most people, but economic forces alone could not have brought about this increase in trade and investment flows. Regulatory regimes negotiated among Governments were also necessary; most regimes emanating from UN bodies were preceded by more modest regimes that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Globalization of economic transactions has been occurring since the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century. …

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