Today, just as faith in deregulated markets has evaporated in the nightmare on Wall Street, so too is the long reign of market fundamentalism (or neoliberalism) ending in the development arena. And, a debate over the best route to development has returned.
Whose interest does the ten-year Strategy document for Africa actually serve? The World Bank has shown little insight into the real problems Africa faces, focusing instead on ineffective policies, support for repressive regimes and projects that are known to have failed.
Signing international investment treaties, in the hope of attracting foreign investments, has been a central strategy for governments looking to improve economic development. The less known side of this story is that by signing investment treaties, governments are giving away the sovereign right to regulate in the interest of people and the environment. They also expose themselves to the risk of spending millions in law suits that could have been used to serve public needs. It’s time that the dark side of investment is put under the spotlight.
Reclaiming Development, a closely-argued critique of neoliberal economic policy, is debunking development orthodoxies at its best. Republished now, ten years after its first appearance, the book has lost none of its relevance for students and those trying to re-direct economic policies away from their financialized doom-loops.
The language contained in agreements being negotiated by the EU through the WTO with their southern counterparts often deliberately diguises real political goals, obscuring the negative economic implications for those countries of the neoliberal agenda.