About free trade and globalization

On the 5th of March, the U.S. Administration decided to impose tariffs between 20 and 30 percent on sixteen of the most imported steel products. The background is diminishing profits and lack of effectiveness among large U.S. steel producers. Rising imports and falling prices have pressured major U.S. steel companies, but instead of the necessary restructuring of the porno gratis industry, the steel industry lobby has influenced the U.S. Administration and President George W. Bush to impose heavy tariffs to “protect” the domestic steel producers.

The previously convinced free-trader Bush seems to have betrayed his ideals. Numerous individuals, organisations, and political parties that support free trade and globalisation were delighted when the freedom-fighting President took office last January. But now, Bush has disappointed all of us by suddenly adopting protectionist ideas.

The U.S. steel companies’ need for governmental protection is not surprising. All industries will sooner or later be driven out of business if they are reluctant to adjust to new and changing circumstances. In today’s global economy restructuring is inevitable, companies simply cannot stay competitive without renewing and reforming their business. What is surprising is that President Bush has given in to their demands for profits without having to face international competition.

If President Bush were a genuine free-trader who held principles higher than steel lobby arguments, these tariffs would have been unthinkable. Free trade is free trade tariffs are protectionism. While “protecting” U.S. steel workers, unions, and companies, Bush is at the same time damaging the rest of the steel-producing world. Listening more to domestic lobby organisations than following his former free trade ideals is also damaging to his reputation. According to a study cited in Time magazine, the tariffs will increase unemployment in steel-consuming industries (eight jobs killed for every job ”saved” by the tariffs according to one study). Moreover, the U.S. tariffs have opened the door for other countries to raise their own trade barriers, referring to the U.S. decision. EU officials have already mentioned the risk of trade-war between the U.S. and some of its major trading partners, for example the European Union. This would be a severe backlash for the world economy, which recently has been moving in the direction of free trade.

Protectionism, tariffs, and trade barriers ought to be dead and buried in the 21st century. The way of free trade, competitive industries and deregulated economies is the only way to follow if prosperity — in industrialised as well as in developing countries — is the goal. Government interventions and subsidies to inefficient industries do not foster economic growth. Free trade and liberalization do!

About the campaign
The initiative to this campaign was taken by the executive board of Fria Moderata Studentförbundet, a confederation of conservative and libertarian student clubs at the universities in Sweden. We believe that free trade is one of the most fundamental principles of a free society, and that free trade increases both liberty and economic prosperity in a society. We are well aware of the obstacles on the road to international free trade. This campaign is, however, an attempt to take a small step in the right direction. It happens that the leaders of the world actually listen to good arguments from ordinary people. It actually happens.

Winners of the 2004 ICT R&D Small Grants Programme

Acacia and Connectivity Africa, the two African ICT4D programmes of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, awarded six small grants for research on the effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on African communities, and for innovative ICT applications in support of sustainable development on the continent.
The grants of up to CAD $30,000 each were awarded as part of the 2004 ICT R&D Small Grants Programme, out of a total of almost 50 applications.
The winning proposals include a plan to develop a prototype low-cost, solar powered computer in rural Nigeria, a study of how ICTs are changing the work of African journalists, and a project to assess the impact of ICT skills on employment prospects for youth in rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania. Many of these small-scale research projects aim to address the policy and practical barriers that prevent marginalized communities from communicating and accessing information using new technologies.
IDRC supports the use of ICTs for African development through the Acacia Programme Initiative and Connectivity Africa. Acacia is a programme to empower sub-Saharan communities with the ability to apply ICTs to their own social and economic development. See: Connectivity Africa supports innovative approaches to improving access to ICTs on the African continent.

 

WINNERS OF THE 2004 ICT R&D GRANTS

Alternative billing methods for Internet services
Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Tanzania

COSTECH will develop alternative methods of measuring and billing for Internet use that will render the services more accessible and affordable to low-income users.
Contact: Ali Ayub Kalufya.

Expérimentation de livres électroniques pédagogiques en éducation supérieure
Centre d’études supérieures du multimédia et de  l’Internet (CESMI), Sénégal; Informatique documentaire édition électronique (IDEE), Canada/Sénégal.

This project involves the production of a collection of electronic law books, which will be tested at the Faculty of Law, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar. 
Contact: Marc-André Ledoux.

How are “early adopters” among African journalists and newsrooms using ICTs in their work?
Journalism & Media Studies Department, Rhodes University, South Africa

Working with journalists in the Highway Africa network, this project will develop baseline data and a typology of the use of ICTs in African newsrooms.
Contact: Prof. Guy Berger.

The impact of ICT on youth livelihood strategies in Kenya and Tanzania
Global Education Partnership (GEP), USA

GEP will assess the impact of ICT and entrepreneurship skills on the prospects of youth in rural communities.
Contact : Ed Marcum.

Information programme on rural telecommunications in Africa
Panos Institute, United Kingdom

This project will examine the current status of rural telecommunications and rural telecommunications policy in four African countries.
Contact: Kitty Warnock.

Tropicalized computer in rural Nigeria
Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria

This project will research and pilot a low-budget, solar-powered computer suited to rural settings in tropical climates.
Contact: John Dada.