In simple terms, globalization refers to the closer integration
of countries and people around the world. It is the product of
numerous factors, including reduced trade barriers, lower trans-
portation and communication costs, and increased movements of
capital, knowledge, technology, culture, and people across borders.
To many, these changes imply progress, but globalization is an
issue of multiple dimensions that has sparked heated debates and
protests around the world.
Proponents argue that globalization results in increased con-
sumer choices and access, enables countries to use resources more
efficiently, leads to the introduction of new tech-
nologies, creates new industries, and promotes
more rapid economic growth.
Critics maintain that globalization has
exposed vulnerable economies to economic and
financial shocks not of their making, con-
tributed to environmental degradation, led to
unemployment and downward pressure on
wages, and strained the ability of poor countries
In recent years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has
become a focal point of the globalization controversy, largely due
to its visible role in reducing barriers to trade in goods and serv-
ices. The massive protests at the 2001 WTO meeting in Seattle took
many by surprise and thrust both globalization and the WTO into
the world spotlight.
Critics of the WTO are not limited to anti-globalization pro-
testers; proponents of free trade and globalization have also
criticized the WTO. Some see the 7-year long negotiation of a
new multilateral trade agreement as evidence that too many
ECONOMIC RESEARCH SERVICE/USDA
Despite the WTO having strong critics in the U.S. and abroad,
membership in the organization continues to grow.
WTO member countries trade concessions to gain access to for-
eign markets, benefiting producers and consumers in the aggregate.
The growth of the WTO has helped facilitate the globalization
World Trade Organization
and Globalization Help
Facilitate Growth in