Is globalisation good for the world?

Shirley Williams Peter Sutherland
8 November 2001

Can globalisation be equitable? Is world poverty and inequality the result of too much globalisation, or not enough? Is an active role for government now endorsed even by neo-liberals? And in an age of global economic forces, must governance itself become global? On the eve of the World Trade Organisation summit in Qatar, the founder of the WTO and chairman of BP discusses these issues with the Harvard University academic and leader of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party in the House of Lords.

Shirley Williams – When I was in America at the time of the 11 September attack, one of the questions asked across the country was “why does the world hate us so much?” Part of the answer is the perception of injustice in the global structures of the so-called “Washington consensus”. How do you respond to the argument that globalisation appears to have delivered much more to the richer countries than the poorer, and the profound resentment this appears to be breeding?

Peter Sutherland – I don’t think that one should exaggerate the connection between current events and globalisation per se. I think that many of the criticisms and difficulties the US appears to have in terms of its relationship with other peoples is due to factors other than economic globalisations. It relates often to political positions, and perceptions of political positions. Look at Latin America. All sorts of political decisions and foreign policy issues over the years have created difficulties and differences, such as the support for leaders some of whom do not command universal respect. There are a lot of reasons for resentment. Any simplistic connection between this and the ‘haves and have nots’ issue can be exaggerated although it is clearly of some relevance.

SW – But look at the figures. There is growing inequity within many developing countries. Brazil is a good example, up from twelve-to-one to twenty-five-to-one, if you compare the top fifth to the bottom fifth, and there’s even some decline in the levels of primary education. If I look at Brazil, Russia, or Indonesia, none of them are making very much advance with respect to social standards. Very little is being done for the ordinary people. There is fault with the governments of these countries, but arguably also with the international structures.

PS – This is an immensely complicated question related to very different societies. Why has inequality grown in some and not others? Where inequality between the top and the bottom has grown, it can also be the case that income at the bottom has grown much faster than the world average.

I think that the most significant impoverishing of societies has been the result of bad government in the countries themselves more often than the impact of external factors. In the 1950’s, per capita income in Egypt was similar to that of Korea. Today it is less than a fifth of that of Korea. Both have had high military expenditures perhaps relatively even more in Korea than Egypt. Or compare Morocco and Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

Bad government then leads to the biggest cause of poverty – which is lack of globalisation. The protectionist societies in the world have been the societies which have grown least. Those which are over-bureaucratised, those which have high measures of interference, state monopolies, and fail to engage in the global economy, those are the ones who stay poor. It is difficult to name any country that has adopted consistent policies of allowing open competition and trade that has languished in terms of economic growth.

SW – You emphasise government. But there was very little talk of this for a long time. Maria Cattaui also says in her openDemocracy interview that good government is essential to proper, balanced economic development. But we don’t have institutions which are very good at nurturing better governments. For example, both Russia and Indonesia are countries where the West insisted upon the liberalization of capital where it was clear that the institutions were simply too flimsy to manage it. I know Russia quite well, and I saw the effects of the huge inflow of capital, followed by the huge outflow of capital. Basically the oligarchs treated Russia as a fiefdom.

PS – But Shirley, what are you suggesting we should do? Some sort of colonial intervention? That we should fix governments in countries like Indonesia, because that’s where the problem is? The inflow of capital is often absolutely necessary and we must be very cautious about inhibiting outflow because that in turn will stop much investment.

SW – Their governments are not treated properly. The developing world is not adequately represented on the international institutions. It is ludicrous that a country like India isn’t on the security council of the UN.

PS – Of course we can all agree with that.

SW – But we don’t do anything about it.

PS – Wait for a second. A number of us have been trying to do something about it. In particular three years ago I proposed a globalisation summit involving developing countries, and the idea has been supported by President Cardoso in Brazil, and others such as former President Zedillo of Mexico. We argued that the G7/G8 structure should be changed. It is also very important that we in the developed world are much more generous in opening markets in areas like agriculture and textiles and that we should have more effective and efficient structures. All that I’m saying, and it is I think indisputable, that the real problem with the economies that have failed has been largely their own domestic governments. Western democracies can’t change them without getting involved in a manner that would absolutely offend the principles of the UN Charter.

SW – But Korea is an example of a country which was very closed, and had massive government structures. It didn’t just simply open up to competition in a way that Egypt may well have done. It isn’t just the opening to competition that has done Korea a lot of good, it has also been the massive historic subsidies. In Russia, as Jeffrey Sachs argued, the West was knowingly irresponsible and did little to discourage asset stripping and the like. Surely there are ways in which you can help or assist countries, which aren’t a matter of being colonial. Look at the European community and Ireland, for example – massive regional development assistance to what had been a poor member-state.

PS – Of course that is true of Korea but only up to a point. They also conducted market reform and any example will contain a wide range of different issues. I’m not saying either that the wealthiest have been whiter-than-white in the way that they have behaved. Anything but. I’m just saying that in general, countries which have participated in the global economy, and have structures that allowed them to do it, however gradually, have gained massively. Those who have not, have lost. From the Iron Curtain countries to India, protectionism has destroyed economic development rather than fostered it. Whilst everyone has been guilty of protectionism from time to time the more egregious the example the worse the overall economic performance.

Aid for relief, rules for development

SW – Then look at the way the IMF operates. Surely countries should be entitled to insist that such crucial areas as primary and secondary education and public health be ring-fenced from the effects of structural change. You have seen a lot of this because you have been involved in structural proposals and reassessments of national economic plans. When you talk about governance, this must include the basic public services. Do you think that it is justified for the World Bank or for the IMF, to require they not be protected? Looking back, surely Malaysia was right to maintain some degree of capital controls, as Chile did, at the time of the 1998 East Asian crisis?

PS – I don’t know that the retention of capital controls was the central factor in the relative success in avoiding contamination in either case.

SW – Though they did to some extent.

PS – Yes, they had them. But the issue is one of global confidence in the two economies in question. They had developed essentially on the basis of the market economy system. Developing countries have to be very careful about controls on capital movement. They will definitely have a very significant effect on inward investment. This year, China will get probably £43 billion in Foreign Direct Investment, and compare this with India (although the Indian example is probably particularly related to bureaucracy and excessive protection of national champions).

SW – But China, which you hold up as an example of rapid development, has still got capital controls.

PS – Yes. Rightly or wrongly however, there is a perception that China is committed to being engaged massively in the global market economy system. In joining the WTO it will be destroying structures which interfere with the ordinary competitive pressures. If for one moment it became clear that the commitment was not there, investment would dry up rapidly, in my opinion. Just as, when the legal and other systems in Russia appeared not to work and damaged some major corporations that invested there, virtually overnight. The Russian economy was massively damaged in terms of inward investment. It is only now coming back in the context of a gradually developing new perception.

It is worth looking very seriously at temporary and carefully established methods of avoiding massive migration of capital, spontaneously or as the result of contagion from some other part of the world. I don’t deny that. But we should not believe this is the core issue with regard to development. On conditionality of support, either from the World Bank or the IMF, and the development of policies relating to social issues like education – I feel that there are times when they should take a lead in helping ensure fundamental services like education. In the Mediterranean North African area, you find that the overall illiteracy is something like forty per cent. This is obviously a huge inhibitor in terms of the potential for growth in the region. I am also strongly of the view that Western governments must be prepared to allocate unconditional aid once assured that it will reach its intended destination.

SW – You mean the UN minimum?

PS – Yes, the 0.7 per cent of GDP. At the moment, I think, only three, shortly to be four, countries do so. It should be an absolute requirement of good government in developed countries. There are a whole lot of support mechanisms, aid, the support of international organizations like the WTO, which came into existence to provide a rule-based system for the proper and fair functioning of the global economic system. What is ironic about some of the attacks by well-meaning people on the WTO is that they are attacking a target which is roundly supported by most developing countries, certainly those which believe in the global inter-dependence of the economic system. The WTO is not the ally or friend of the richer countries. In fact it was the richer countries that at all stages of the Uruguay round very nearly de-railed the GATT and the prospect of creating the WTO. At the end of the Uruguay round, just before we formed the WTO, both the US on various grounds and the EU, in the context of agriculture, very nearly de-railed the whole process. It wasn’t the developing countries that almost de-railed it. They wanted it. And needed it. The sensible ones (the vast majority) know this.

SW – Absolutely. But the trouble is that the WTO enshrines within it the fact that power resides in national governments which protect their own interests, and, if they are very powerful governments like the US, they succeed.

PS – Except that in the WTO, the dispute-settlement mechanism provides a quasi-judicial tribunal to determine right and wrong. Otherwise you would have a situation where the person with the biggest stick gets the goods.

SW – It is a quasi-judicial process, but is it seen as legitimate? Who appoints the judges?

PS – It may not seem legitimate, sure, but I don’t accept at all the general observation that it may not be seen as legitimate. I’ve never heard criticism of the dispute settlement system, apart from the big countries when they are beaten, as they often are. It is functioning reasonably well. The appointment of the panels is left to the general assembly. They are objective, and are working well.

SW – We have been talking almost entirely in economic terms. Clearly one of the arguments made about the WTO process is that by its nature it can’t take into account the environmental or social effects of the decisions it makes. It is not supposed to. How does one deal with the fact that the international, legal and political structures are incredibly weak? Part of the resentment people feel is that they cannot impact on the economic structure because the institutions to do so don’t really exist. Can you see a way in which we can develop the politico-judicial structures, to make them an effective counter-weight?

PS – Well we know how difficult this is in the context of attitudes to national sovereignty in the context of Europe and the EU. Gradually we have, I think in a uniquely successful and noble way, dealt with them in the EU. It has taken us a long time to get the modest degree we have traveled.

SW – And two huge wars…

PS – …and indeed a millennium of conflict between peoples in a rather small part of the world who shared a great deal more than they disagree about. So I’ve no illusions about how difficult it will be to move that sovereignty issue up.

I remember going to Washington at the time of the creation of the WTO, because there was a serious doubt immediately before the vote to ratify the WTO treaty that the Republicans would be prepared to allow the WTO to come into existence. Even though it was inter-governmental in structure rather than supra-national, the dispute settlement mechanism was seen to interfere in some way with national sovereignty.

I talked to Newt Gingrich about it. At the end of the day he was very supportive, because he accepted it was very different from the EU’s legal structures (where an individual can call upon his national courts to enforce his European rights against his own government, or legislation can be struck down even in the UK whose basic constitutional principle is supposed to be that the sovereignty of parliament reigns supreme).

The WTO is nothing like the EU. It is essentially inter-governmental. Nonetheless, it contains an element that interferes with pure sovereignty. It becomes difficult to do things that you have agreed not to do, because you will suffer consequences if you are adjudicated against, both public relations and trade consequences.

Jean Monnet, when he wrote his memoirs, talked about the European integration movement as a step towards global governance. It is, however, very, very difficult to make rapid advances in sharing sovereignty on a global basis. We shouldn’t have any illusions about this.

SW – Even with the International Criminal Court? The major road-block here has been the attitude of the United States. Most other countries are willing to sign on. Even quite big non-signatories like Russia could probably be persuaded. Fighting terrorism is clearly not a national issue. I wish that the present conflict had not been defined as war, but rather as a crime against humanity, so that countries could join together against that crime. Do you think that after 11 September and all its repercussions, the US might be persuaded to see the point of the International Criminal Court?

PS – I rather suspect that the effects of 11 September will be the opposite.

SW – Oh you do? That’s very sad…

PS – I’m a great supporter of the International Criminal Court, but I also recognize that with a widespread terrorist threat, it becomes extremely difficult to apply the ordinary norms of criminal trials. Somebody goes into a shop, leaves a paper bag, walks out and the supermarket explodes. The whole evidential issue becomes much more difficult than for a straightforward crime.

So, whilst being a strong supporter of international institutions, I suspect that recent events have led to a situation where people in the US have said, “Look, we are simply not prepared to take on that issue at the moment”.

SW – The problem about defining the conflict as war however is that it tends to polarize states, one against the other. Holding the coalition together would be easier and better as a fight against crime. Take a related issue you will have thought about a lot, the long and dreadful history of the relationships between the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The UK has learned, finally, that there has to be a political solution and trying to crack the IRA by beating it militarily would not deliver more than short-term satisfaction.

Now we don’t actually understand 11 September yet in political terms. The US is replaying the Gulf War. Nobody knows how to deal with the things that inspired – not so much Bin Laden, but the huge numbers of people in the Muslim world who are his potential recruits.

It seems to me as a politician that we have allowed the economic dimension to dominate everything. It is very important but it is not everything. And one of the effects of globalisation, especially in some developing countries, not least Africa, is that traditional social structures have been destroyed without being replaced by anything that offers political and social security. It really bothers me that traditional structures are wrecked but we disregard what happens especially to young people, for whom there is often no longer even informal employment.

A political mirror to the global economy

PS – There are dreadful disparities globally. 1.2 billion people are living on less than one dollar a day. In sub-Saharan Africa, people have not so much been damaged by globalisation, as they simply haven’t been participants in it at all. A much more generous, understanding and supportive position on the part of the developed world is needed.

But the developed world can’t do everything. It can’t re-colonise and change domestic governments. When you look at these societies, intergovernmental aid often does not reach the recipients that it should reach. There is a strong argument that overseas development aid should go, in significant measure, to what I would describe as verifiably objective NGOs, who will put it to the right use.

SW – Or get it past corrupt governments?

PS – Yes. There is an awful lot to be said for giving support directly to those who are running hospitals and schools.

SW – If it’s accountable…

PS – We do have to have an international debate about development issues. We have to have either an effective supplement or substitute for the G7/G8 process, some form of G24. We need a globalisation summit, where there will be serious attempts made to address the deficiencies in the system that has brought us to where we are.

But there is no magic wand. All societies are different, and we can’t simply generalize to the point that we believe that we can produce a solution for everyone, everywhere.

SW – There was a neo-liberal model of globalisation, which said government is bad, get government out of the way, let the market rule, the market will generate development. We don’t need regulation, we don’t need national governments. This was a sort of anti-politics.

Isn’t the issue now the need for politics, rather than just getting the economics of globalisation right? This involves questions of legitimacy not really addressed in the neo-liberal market model.

PS – Well, one has to delve a little into that. I believe very strongly that the greatest dynamic for economic development is competition. Opening, liberalizing, markets.

This is quite different from saying that one believes in total freedom, in terms of regulatory systems. You need regulatory systems, you need re-distribution, you need taxation. I think that the term neo-liberal is abused. Who is a neo liberal? Are we just talking about Lady Thatcher or the Chicago School economists?

If by ‘neo-liberal’ you mean somebody who says that we should not have state monopolies, that we should have less protectionism (the average tariff is twenty per cent at the moment) – there are very few thinking business people or economists who don’t believe that the winning model is based on having more competition. That debate is largely over.

But we can have very different views of what you should do with the results of greater productivity. In Europe we have a much greater belief in a social system. In general we have higher taxation as a percentage of GDP – it is a different model to that of the United States. And we have regulatory mechanisms that avoid the abuse of dominant positions, such as our Competition Directorate, currently run by the very active and efficient Mario Monti.

All of this fits in with the model I would espouse. It has elements of the liberal economic agenda, more competition and the opening up of economies to create efficiency and innovation, and yet it adds political mechanisms which ensure that the system is not abused, and that its product is distributed effectively and efficiently.

What we haven’t done is create an effective political model for this on a global level. The sovereignty issue impedes this, as do the disparities between different societies. Even the miniscule transfer of capital within the EU through regional funds and even the Common Agricultural Policy is politically inconceivable on a global level. Other Western democracies cannot conceive of giving similar amounts of aid to developing countries that some of our countries do in Europe. The democracies, instead of doing more, are moving in the opposite direction. The amount of aid in terms of GDP is in fact deteriorating. This is shameful.

The challenge of inequality

SW – Do you see any future at all in arguments for global taxes like the Tobin Tax? For finding a new tax-base to raise some money internationally that could then be effectively administered internationally?

PS – I just don’t think that there is any way that is going to happen. I personally would like a direct community tax system in the EU to support the institutions and those who are deprived. But I’m afraid that even in Europe that won’t happen. On a global level, some form of taxation to support developing countries would be highly admirable – if we all agreed that we were going to increase our income tax or our corporation tax with a view to creating a fund to deal with these issues. Frankly, we are a long way from having the political consensus to do that.

SW – Well I agree with you about corporation and income tax. But Tobin’s proposal has the advantage of being a new tax base. That’s why politically it is much less difficult to push forward.

Just as important is the relationship between corporations and governments. Clearly quite a lot of the popular protest against the WTO and other organizations is based on the feeling that we are run by big unaccountable corporations.

PS – Contrary to some perceptions I think that the power of big corporations is diminishing, rather than increasing. The evidence of their influence in, for example, the negotiations in the WTO – apart from a couple of sectors from the US and the whole argument about cultural business – is that they weren’t evident at all. From my experience of watching big business, I think it has much less interface with government than people believe. It doesn’t influence things in the way that people seem to think it does. In percentages of GDP creation, the biggest one hundred or five hundred companies in the world are diminishing rather than increasing in their impact. So I actually don’t believe this, and I sit as Chairman of the board of BP, one of the biggest companies. I think multinational companies are often just a convenient whipping post.

SW – Even with respect to TRIPS [Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights]? The painful edge of this for developing countries has been largely related to the pharmaceutical industry, the protection of patent rights – I’m thinking of South Africa and AIDS.

PS – To my mind, the bottom line is that the pharmaceutical sector has delivered enormous advances in terms of human health and life expectancy in some of the poorest parts of the world, and it has been able to do so basically through investments, from pension funds and others. And the number of pharmaceutical companies in existence is diminishing year by year, because the costs of research and development are enormous. If the pharmaceutical companies, more particularly the funds that support investment in pharmaceutical companies, decide that they are not going to get a return on their capital, then pharmaceutical companies will not engage in research and development.

The simplistic argument is just to take their intellectual property rights, tear them up, and provide all of their drugs free to those who need them. This is very dangerous. It will dry up investment in the sector. It seems very appealing to say, “Why shouldn’t we immediately destroy the whole basis of the TRIPS agreement and allow the use of proprietary drugs on a generic basis” because of the human suffering. I think that it can only be effective if the governments who proclaim this right to give these drugs out for nothing pay for them. Otherwise the pharmaceutical sector will simply stop functioning. In fact the TRIPS agreement already contains some significant safeguards to ensure that pharmaceutical companies do not abuse patient rights. I know that further debate will take place in Doha.

SW – I understand your argument. But we are beginning to see some companies supplying drugs at something close to the generic price to developing countries, which couldn’t otherwise afford to import them.

PS – That’s fine and highly desirable if it works. Unfortunately, what could happen is that it could lead to parallel importing, so we have to be careful. In Europe, where most drugs are purchased by governments, there are considerable complaints about Spain’s very strict pricing system: the government will only pay for drugs at a rate of return which is much lower to the drug company than elsewhere. The drug companies complain that if they do then supply the drugs, they start flowing back out of that economy. When you remove economic borders – which after all is what the EU is all about, or on a global basis more slowly through the WTO – this becomes an enormous problem.

SW – I understand, but look at the politics. If one observes a great many South Africans dying, who could be prevented from dying, you have a huge political problem and a profound sense of injustice. There must be some way to address this.

PS – I agree. The way is that we, the developed societies, pay the difference. We have to be prepared to effectively reduce divisions between the dispossessed and those societies which are relatively wealthy. To simply land pharmaceutical companies with obligations that we are not prepared to take on as societies strikes me as being wrong. Of course we must avoid abuses of dominance with proprietary drugs but I think essentially we have to grasp the nettle of massively increasing the aid contribution of every developed country. Maybe a globalisation summit could actually start a process towards that end. I think it can be done. People are prepared to be more generous for good causes when they know that the system will work.

Simply hammering the pharmaceutical companies could be dangerous for the development of new drugs that are badly needed to deal with new problems, for example to find the solution to AIDS. What good would it be if the drug companies, say, “OK gentlemen, we are now going to stop investing in this, because we know that as soon as we produce the drug, we are going to have to give it away, and will not get a return on our investment”. That’s all I’m saying.

SW – It is essential to get a system that is seen as acceptable by the world as a whole. I therefore ask you to go back and think about what that tax base might be.

PS – In my little country, Ireland – not a great example probably, but through public pressure, probably because relationships with the Third World through missionaries and aid NGOs was very high-profile – the government was forced into a high rate of aid. I think the obligation to share more could easily be sold to people by their governments.

SW – Do you mean the US as well?

PS – Well, the US will, I hope, have learnt a great deal from seeing how people feel about it around the world, although the demonising seems in general to be unfair. The real issue is that no matter how much we change, whether we have a Tobin tax or don’t have a Tobin tax, there will not be dramatic, overnight improvement. We are going to have to live with a very divided world, and trying to diminish the divide, for a long time. But we must begin quickly to have a real debate about interdependence and the obligations that go with it.

Global citizens, social purpose

SW – But if ownership, even of services, sits entirely outside small developing countries, then to what extent is the value generated likely to go back into them?

PS – Well, alright. But with any services, whether they be financial services, utilities, electricity, telecoms, or any other, the important thing is that you have the best competition available to produce the cheapest services for the society that you are serving. If you don’t do that, you will end up in a situation where you may have maintained national sovereignty but you pay through the nose for it.

Let me take Egypt as an example. Four state-owned companies control seventy per cent of commercial bank assets and sixty per cent of commercial bank deposits, and these are non-performing at a rate of between twenty-forty per cent. With free movement of capital, who owns companies any more, in national terms? A company is a company where it operates. It operates in accordance with the rules and laws of that society whether in the EU or anywhere else. It should be constrained by competition laws to ensure that it doesn’t work in a manner which is counter-productive.

It’s like the old argument about State airlines. The fact that RyanAir, which is Irish, is providing services out of the UK at cheap rates is all that matters to the consumer. It’s not a question of whether or not you have a flag at the back of your airline or at the front of your bank.

SW – Is BP not a British company?

PS – BP is based in Britain, but we are owned by shareholders all over the world. We have an obligation to behave ethically and properly, but we also have an obligation to our shareholders to provide an efficient and effective vehicle for generating returns on their capital. And our investors are overwhelmingly, through pension funds, the ordinary Joe Bloggs – not merely here, but in other parts of the world. So we’re based here, our seat of governance is here, but we are an international corporation that plays by the rules wherever we are operating.

SW – But many people say: “American corporations are global, but they think as American corporations, you can’t just regard them as neutral multi-nationals”.

PS – It depends on what you mean by “neutral multi-nationals”. There, obligations are to shareholders not to uphold a national interest. I never recall any government trying to force a corporate strategy on the Board of a company with which I am associated.

SW – No, not direction of corporations by governments. The opposite – that corporations feel they have interests, and look to their governments to push for their interests.

PS – At the end of the day governments will support what are perceived to be “their own companies”. But ultimately this is not a decisive factor in the success or failure of companies. The success or failure of companies in Europe, North America and much of the rest of the world is determined by the efficiency and effectiveness of the company in question. Governments can’t do very much about it.

SW – You are Irish, your wife is Spanish, you speak very passionately about Europe. You head the international division of Goldman Sachs, a US company, from its office here in London. And you have criticized America for being introverted. Are you a citizen of the world?

PS – The Americans in general are extremely introverted. But not in Goldman Sachs, I should say, because thirty per cent of their turnover is coming from Europe. Frankly, in Goldman Sachs it doesn’t come up that we are American. It never seems to me to be relevant. Our potential for growth is significantly outside the United States. When we were a partnership, which after all was only a couple of years ago, an increasing number of our partners were continental Europeans or Asians. Nobody presented us as being American or British or anything else.

I personally feel that in an interdependent world we have to reduce the area of national sovereignty, and potential conflict arising out of clashes of sovereignty. I would like to be simply a citizen of the world. But we all maintain considerable emotional connection with our places of origin. I will be cheering as passionately for Ireland against England in Rugby as I would have been one hundred years ago. I don’t think that we ever lose that. I’m not sure that it is a good thing but I don’t deny that I have it. In fact, in small countries we probably have it rather more than in others but nationalism has done a great deal of harm.

I don’t think that such national identity is threatened by integrating with global economic activity. Global economic integration and more effective ways of dealing with global poverty will remove or reduce some of the sources of tension between people. That is why I am a passionate believer in European integration and I hate petty-minded nationalists with a passion!

SW – The anti-globalisation protestors also often feel an emotional solidarity for others around the world. In the globalising economy there are still winners and losers. The protestors have a very strong emotional, and in some cases rational, analysis of how globalisation is impacting on the losers. Is there not a political validity and space for that protest?

PS – The anti-globalisation movement is basically a collection of disparate groups with different objectives. They have no common position. If there is a common position, it is probably best described as being anti-capitalist. But I don’t know what being anti-capitalist actually means any more. Pure capitalism doesn’t exist anywhere really. If capitalism means the functioning of the market economy system, I think most people believe that in one way or the other the market economy is absolutely essential for global development. But if it means no redistribution, many of us would totally disagree with that, or with any capitalism involving the unrestrained functioning of the market.

SW – Yes, but these groups are pressing for more light to be shed on issues of equity, and on the losers rather than the winners in the global economy. Don’t you think that is a valuable part of the global political process?

PS – Absolutely, but it is an arrogance on their part to assume that businessmen are not concerned with losers. They shouldn’t assume either that those who were negotiating the WTO agreement and the Uruguay Round had any less interest in global equity. There is a certain arrogance in suggesting that protest groups and NGOs have a monopoly over concern for people. That is rubbish. Many people who became involved in the European movement for example were directly concerned about issues of that kind, and have put their concerns into practice by developing our society to positive effect.

See also a later interview with Peter Sutherland in 2004

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