Issues / Labor, Trade, & Finance
A nonaligned, economically autarkic, one-party state under harsh military rule since 1962, Burma has metamorphosed into a test case for action on several fronts: human rights in Southeast Asia, international trade relations and the World Trade Organization (WTO), the growing worldwide heroin epidemic, and the role of foreign investors in supporting dictatorships.
Investment funds, established to provide capital for private enterprises and sponsored by government agencies and multinational institutions, are increasing in number every year.
International flows of private investment have risen sharply in recent years.
The G-7 was formed in 1975 to provide an informal forum for coordination of economic policy among leaders of prominent industrialized nations.
Washingtons increasing focus on promoting international investment and trade is evident in the smorgasbord of assistance offered to U.S. exporters.
In the immigration debate, free marketers square off against cultural conservatives on the right side of the political spectrum; while on the left, civil rights and ethnic advocacy groups oppose environmentalists and job protectionists.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a wholly owned government corporation established in 1971, provides taxpayer-backed and taxpayer-funded loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to businesses for investments in politically risky countries.
Today, member countries number 125 (nearly the whole world except China, some former communist countries, and a number of small nations) and WTO rules apply to over 90 percent of international trade.
A fundamental challenge facing policymakers and activists is how to set and enforce rules to protect workers from repression, exploitation, and danger.
Close trade and security ties bind the U.S. and Japan in a web of interdependence.