Letters

Globalisation and health

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7348.1276 (Published 25 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1276

Those concerned with health must continue to challenge power

  1. Colin D Butler (colin.butler@anu.edu.au), PhD student
  1. National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra 0200
  2. European Health Forum Gastein, 5630 Bad Hofgastein, Austria

    EDITOR—Rao argues that trade between unequal partners is better for everyone than no trade at all.1 Although specialisation and free trade lead to increased total production, however, the benefits between unequal partners are rarely shared equally. Despite increased production it is not even certain that the population of the weaker economy will benefit; an oversupply of goods produced may lead to lower wages because the price of such goods is set not by benign agreement but by supply and demand.

    The doctrine of comparative advantage being of mutual benefit holds only for a static position.2 Uganda may have a comparative disadvantage in software design, but if it produces only coffee then its software industry can never develop. Furthermore, overspecialisation in coffee will always leave it vulnerable, including to oversupply.

    While oversupply of goods produced by the stronger economy is possible, that economy's strengths generally cushion it better from adversity. These cushions include the flow of interest from poor to wealthy populations, the leverage afforded to …

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