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Women and Globalization

A Basic Globalization Glossary

huge farms that are run as corporations and the products and services that serve them. In agribusiness profit is more important than food production.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation - promotes trade and economic cooperation between 21 countries that border the Pacific Ocean.

Bretton Woods
Conference held in 1944 that led to the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

civil society
refers to the average citizen as opposed to government. Civil society is represented by unions, churches, and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

a product or service that is worth money. Commodities are usually items that can be sold or traded such as grain, coal, or wine or mass-produced items like radios, teddy bears, and T-shirts.

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - a branch of Canada's federal government.

occurs when a country sells goods internationally at prices lower than prices on the country's national market. In this way exporters get a hold of the market by undercutting their competitors. See also social dumping.

taxes on imports that are put in place to protect local economies and to encourage citizens to buy locally. Free trade agreements recommend getting rid of duties and other trade restrictions.

Export Processing Zone - tax free zones that appear as 'factory cities' typically found across Asia, in which products for export are made, especially clothing, shoes, and electronics. EPZs are characterized by poor working conditions such as low pay, long hours, and few opportunities for workers to organize.

goods and services produced within one country and traded to other countries. Canada exports grain around the world. China exports clothing and electronics.

fair trade
a movement advocating for trade that contributes to environmental protection, fair wages, and good working conditions. Fair trade coffee is widely available across Canada and other fairly-traded products are becoming more available.

free trade
trade of goods and services across national borders without duties or other restrictions like tariffs and quotas. Free trade gives corporations freedom to pursue their corporate profits with little attention paid to the way that is done. Free trade has resulted in the destruction of local economies across the world.

Free Trade Agreement - signed in 1988 by Canada and the United States.

Free Trade Area of the Americas - trade agreement currently being negotiated to include all 34 countries of the Americas except Cuba. Canada hosted a meeting of all the leaders in Quebec City in April 2001.

originally an elite and closed group of 6 countries that first met in 1975 as the G6 and continue to meet annually to discuss political and economic issues. Members include France, United States, Britain, Italy, Japan, and Germany, and later Canada. In 1998 Russia also joined creating the G8. The President of the European Commission has also attended since 1977.

General Agreement on Trade in Services - a set of multilateral rules and commitments covering government measures which affect trade in services.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - established in 1945 after the Second World War to manage world trade with a mandate of "raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income" for the residents of the countries that lower their trade barriers and open their economies; replaced with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

genetic engineering
a scientific process that involves inserting genes from one species into another in an attempt to transfer a desired trait or character. Many of our foods such as soybeans and canola are genetically-engineered. Many people worry that we do not know enough about gene sciences to know what the results of genetic engineering will be. Genetic engineering reduces the natural diversity of nature creating a kind of monoculture in the gene world.

the name given to a process in which trade, money, people, and information travel across international borders with increasing frequency and ease. The word is used most often in reference to economic globalization, the process of the merging of world markets.

Heavily-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)
a country that racked up a huge debt-load during the 1980s. Soaring interest rates caused these debts to skyrocket out of control. Many groups call these debts 'unjust' and 'illegitimate' arguing that they have been paid many times over. Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and Asia are HIPCs.

International Labour Organization - a UN agency which promotes internationally-recognized labour rights.

International Monetary Fund - established after World War II and made up of 182 member countries. The IMF makes loans to very poor countries and often demands structural adjustment programs (SAPs) be implemented before the loan is given. See structural adjustment for more information.

Intellectual Property Rights
refers to making knowledge and ideas private. It includes rights to inventions and discoveries like patents for new drugs, trademarks, and seeds, as well as the ownership of ideas and indigenous traditions.

Multilateral Agreement on Investment - a package of trade rights giving power to investors. It has been proposed and rejected at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) but is still being promoted by big business.

short form of the Spanish word maquiladora. Originally associated with the process of milling, in Mexico it has become the word for another kind of processing -- the assembly of imported component parts for re-export. Companies like working in maquilas because of low wages, lack of environmental or labour regulations, low taxes, and few if any duties.

Marshall Plan
an economic recovery plan put forward by US Secretary of State George Catlett Marshall on June 5, 1947 to rebuild Europe after the end of World War II. Some people suggest we need another Marshall Plan today to help rebuild other devastated economies such as the economics of developing countries.

Mercado Comun del Cono Sur (Common Market of the Southern Cone), a free trade block and customs union, comprising Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

North American Free Trade Agreement - signed in 1995 by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Organization of American States - a body with representation from all countries in the Americas. It is now charged with 27 non-trade issues in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) such as poverty, drug control, and democracy.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - an elite group of highly industrialized nations.

occurs when services that are owned and operated by the government are sold to private corporations. While governments provide services like education, healthcare, and social assistance as a service to citizens, when corporations own these services their main goal is profit.

Structural Adjustment Program. See also structural adjustment.

Social Charter
a set of social rights for citizens agreed to between governments of different countries. The aim is to ensure that standards rise rather than fall when countries with different levels of labour and environmental protection form a trading area.

social dumping
similar to 'dumping' except that it refers to lowering production costs through low wages and sub-standard social conditions.

structural adjustment
a process imposed on poor countries in which they must privatize services, export more, and reduce the government's role in the economy in order to access International Monetary Fund/World Bank loans. Structural adjustment programs have brought devastation to vulnerable citizens of poor countries as they lose more of their few protections and services. The term has received such widespread criticism that IMF/WB launched a new program in 1999 called Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs.) Though the name changed, the policies remain the same.

a 19th century word that describes a system of employment where factory owners profited by forcing their employees to work long hours under unsafe conditions, for subsistence wages.

Transnational Corporation - huge multinational businesses whose annual sales are greater than the yearly gross domestic product (GDP) of most countries. A rough estimate suggests that the 300 largest TNCs own or control at least one-quarter of the entire world's productive assets.

the transfer of goods and services across borders.

Trade sanctions
the withdrawal of a preferential market access to punish members of a free trade area for violating parts of the trading agreement.

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights - agreement which came into effect at the same time as the WTO (January 1, 1995).

Uruguay Round
a series of trade negotiations between 1986-1994 that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

World Bank
The World Bank Group is comprised of five agencies that make loans or guarantee credit to 177 member countries. Its stated aim is to help countries reduce poverty by making long-term loans to governments for large-scale projects such as dams or pipelines, or to back economic reform programmes. However, World Bank loans have often had very negative effects on countries putting them in situations of precarious debt and setting conditions on which countries can receive loans, conditions which often have a devastating impact on the lives of citizens.

World Trade Organization - an institution to govern international trade and a body of law which administers legal agreements on how countries should conduct international trade. It was established in 1995 to replace General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The WTO mandate is a similar but expanded version of GATT and includes services, investment, and intellectual property as well as sustainable development.

This glossary has borrowed heavily from a number of sources including: Show us the Money: The Politics and Process of Alternative Budgets, Common Frontiers Free Trade Action Kit, BRIDGE Glossary on Macroeconomics from a Gender Perspective, Oxfam Canada No Sweat Campaigner, Maquila Solidarity Network, Corporate Watch, the World Trade Organization, and United for a Fair Economy.

If you would like to play a game with these terms visit our Quiz.

For information on terms relating to the economy, see A Basic Glossary on Economics.

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