Though the effects of globalization will continue to draw jobs in some U.S. industries abroad, a protectionist response would only limit the country’s ability to grow export markets in the developing world, warned World Bank President James Wolfensohn, speaking at the Atlanta History Center last week.
Mr. Wolfensohn, who has served in the position since 1995, visited Atlanta, March 2, to accept an award from the Southern Center for International Studies for his and the bank’s efforts to reduce world poverty.
“The developing world is slated to grow ten-fold in terms of economic impact,” he said during his presentation, noting that less industrialized nations will account for $56 trillion of an anticipated $140 trillion global economy in 2050.
Georgia, like many U.S. states, can expect to ship some 40 percent of its exports to the developing world in the coming years, he added.
And though U.S. industry will be forced to adjust its skills to areas where it can remain globally competitive, Mr. Wolfensohn said he remained optimistic for the U.S. economy.
“The U.S. will continue to have high production capacity and the reality is that it wants a healthy world to export to,” he said, making a case for free trade.
He admitted that China presents a significant challenge to U.S. jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
But he added that growth in the Chinese market, as well as growth in developing markets worldwide, would increase export opportunities for U.S. industry in those regions and provide new export-related jobs for U.S. workers.
When questioned as to whether he would stay on for another term as World Bank president – his current term is up in 18 months – Mr. Wolfensohn remained noncommittal.
“I’m not against it, but I’m not campaigning for it,” he said.
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