The aggressive liberalization of international trade through international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund has led to an enormous increase in the volume of trade – global trade in 2000 was 22 times the level of 1950 (Nicholls & Opal, 2005: 17) and world exports have almost doubled over the last decade (HDR, 2005: 114). But global inequality has grown simultaneously – so drastically, that many question the basic assumption that trade benefits all. The United Nations Human Development Report 2005, for example, introduces its section on international trade with a telling quote by Eduardo Galeano: “The division of labour among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing.” And – to give a flavour of what the outcome of neoliberal trade is according to this report – the “world’s richest 500 individuals have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million. Beyond these extremes, the billion people living on less than $2 a day – 40% of the world’s population – account for 5% of global income. The richest 10%, almost all of whom live in high-income countries, account for 54%.” (HDR, 2005: 4)
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