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A Glance at the Developing World

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Short analysis of the economic and social issues of the developing world.
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   A glance at the developing world While all regions of the world are struggling with similar issues to some extent, their causes might be so different that generalized policies will not be able to help them anymore. People in Latin America want fair and equal opportunities, job security and cessation of social injustice. Asia’s power has grown very much in the last period and should the openness to entrepreneurship and foreign investment continue, the development of this region will be natural. However, taking a close look at different parts of the world, we can notice that they are facing problems that cannot be replicated in other conditions and regions. While being aggregately one of the most important exporters in the world with a great potential to develop, Latin America is passing through a very difficult period socially and politically. Coups d’état, riots and protests have shredded both the confidence of citizens and the potential of growth of the region. Most countries have high poverty rates, no adequate medical systems and low literacy rates, suggesting that this region is rather exploited than helped to develop. The continent is growing fast due to some countries, having Brazil in the south which is one of the most important emerging markets in the world and part of the BRIC group and Argentina that registered continuous growth in the past years despite the global economic crisis. Several free trade areas and customs unions such as Mercosur, Andean Community or SICA are exempting countries from paying duties and encouraging movement of goods, services and capital. Trade could constitute the ground for long term development around the entire continent, as many of the countries have natural resources including oil, coffee, sugar, natural gas and minerals. The globalized world has facilitated the growth of this region in the last decades because developed countries had the opportunity to import cheap products and services or establish their own factories here in order to gain access to the labour force. On the other hand, as most of the revenue of the countries from Latin America came from exports, many governments supported foreign investors and continuously devaluated national currencies at the loss of their own citizens’ well -being. Asia stands still divided in terms of economic stability, with Japan and the Tigers as the few developed countries, but with a great potential coming from China, India and Russia, the other three biggest emerging economies along Brazil. The most important companies in the developed world invested massively in Asia, seeing the great opportunity it offers in terms of human potential and knowledge. Asian people demonstrated great perseverance, desire to improve and unequalled efficiency in the industrial process. With few exceptions, political leaders showed vision and strategic thinking, fostering the growth of the region and its social stability by creating a proper environment to attract foreign investment and stressing the importance of education among individuals. While the second half of the twentieth century was very challenging from a political point of view because of the Cold War and many other international tensions that affected the region, the last decade has brought Asia unprecedented growth and social development. European governments have been striving to unify the entire continent’s policies with the creation of an economic and monetary union. Comprising 31 out of the 47 developed countries identified by the United Nations, Europe could be considered the most developed continent in the world. However, the vast majority of the Eastern region of the continent is performing not even nearly as good as the Western side. While countries from the West have been supported after World War II  by the United States through the Marshall Plan, the other half of the continent fell under the pre-eminence of the Soviet Union which blocked social development and discouraged private property. While some of the former Soviet countries had a good collaboration with the West and transitioned successfully to a market economy, many others have not overpassed this period and are still struggling with corruption, an unprepared labour force and social scission. Hopefully, with the support of their more developed neighbours and the European Union, these countries will further develop to reach their real potential. Nevertheless, the political challenges will continue to represent an important part of the future of the region, but their resolve might be the catalyst that will bring stability at all levels of society. Africa is the one continent in the world that struggles the most with poverty, low life expectancy, social segregation and lack of basic healthcare. While most of the Northern countries and South Africa are performing better, Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a severe lack of resources and knowledge necessary to build an economy upon. This is the perhaps the most affected region of the world where foreign financial aid has been the only alternative. However, the intervention in these countries has evolved to tackle not only the economic aspect, but also health and education. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations or the IDA are among the few most important organizations that have financed and developed projects in this area combatting malaria, providing basic education and access to water, sanitation or vaccines. This region has represented the major challenge of international organizations and most of the world’s aid is directed there, but further innovations will need to be made in order to help the creation of truly stable economies and societies in this part of the globe. The Arab World is the largest conflict zone of the world and social tensions have taken big proportions. The Syria civil war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most important military conflicts following the end of the Cold War and they have all happened in the Middle East. The region is also home of one of the most famous terrorist organization in the world, Al-Qaeda, and of the Lebanese political military group, Hezbollah. Even if the importance of these events was raised due to international intervention and presumed hidden interests in the oil resources of the region, the most profound wound of these territories appears to be religion, being the root of the many civil conflicts, the motivation for terrorist attacks and even the source of legislation. Research and innovation are some of the most important drivers of economic growth mentioned in the Europe 2020 Strategy  . In the South-East, we can find that Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro are creating policies to nurture the development of these fields and transform them into competitive advantage, suggesting the region is aligning to Western tendencies and moving towards change. Initiatives in Africa are beginning to show results and after a long period of stagnation, the region is registering economic growth that is predicted to continue in the next years, creating the premises for the continent to take its rightful place in the world economies. However, poverty, youth unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth and proper medical services are still problems that African people and governments will have to face. Peace in the Middle East is one of the most desired outcomes for the future and international summits are being organized in order to bring together leaders of this region to resolve their issues, among them the recent Geneva II Middle East Peace Conference. Although it is a delicate subject, if  the efforts to tackle it are successful, the reconstruction of the region can become an economic engine for the world due to its vast resources and power of influence. The OECDs 2013 Development Co-Operation Report shows that new goals to end poverty must include empowering people, which seems to be a shift of vision towards a more sustainable development and long-term concern regarding aid. In the same time, the World Bank is arguing that in the future aid will not be about money anymore, but rather about transferring knowledge. There are only 1.2 billion people in world now living in extreme poverty, half of the number from 2000 when the first millennia objective to reduce poverty was settled. However, all indicate that one of the challenges of the future will be how to help people construct their own economies and be independent of humanitarian aid. Some of the instruments to help development around the world have already been created and they represented the basis of globalization, but from now on they would probably be mature enough to help the entire world grow. The World Trade Organization, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund are some of the institutions whose purpose is to tackle globally the reduction of poverty. Looking at the Americas, we can find The Caribbean Community has moved towards the creation of a common market in order to foster economic growth in the region. Other important organizations such as Mercosur, the Andean Community, and the Central America Integration System (SICA) are covering almost all Latin America and create the premises for development in the region, while NAFTA and FTAA are creating bonds between the North and the South. ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Community in Asia, EBRD and the European Union, ECOWAS and the South African Development Community are some of the most important international agreements that will enable the world to have coherent regional and foreign policies, a fair trade environment and the opportunity to transfer knowledge across states. The Lomé Convention followed by the Cotonou Agreement created the premises for inter-continental collaboration between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states (ACP), aiming to eradicate poverty while supporting the gradual integration of ACP countries into the world economy. The World Economic Forum is gathering leaders from around the world in all fields to discuss international concerns and shape global agendas, the G8 summits bring together the heads of states of the most developed countries in the world in order to discuss issues of worldwide interest, while the G20 major economies consult on matters of international financial systems. In conclusion, it seems that all the institutions and agreements that can make the eradication of poverty possible and create a bridge towards a better future, are already established and functioning. Taking into consideration their past experience, they should be able to best understand the different regions of the world and create tailored solutions that integrate each specific potential and economic stage of development. I believe that not only these regions encounter themselves in different stages, but they have different histories and social wounds that have to be addressed in order to build real economies upon. They need to be understood and treated as equal partners in international relations and helped not to overcome short-term problems, but rather build sustainable economies and empower their citizens.
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