Chapter One: Economic Globalization

XI. Sectoral International Economic Groupings

Important as are the trade-related groupings discussed above, for a business operating in almost any international economic sector, there is likely to be a sectoral global body with substantial rule-making powers which will have a far greater impact on its operations.

Thus for banking there is the Basle-based Bank for International Settlements, for telecommunications there is the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), for airlines there is IATA, and so forth. For businesses engaged in international trade, in almost any sector, the International Chamber of Commerce is likely to loom large.

There is an analysis of many of these organizations at Appendix I. Here it will suffice to study just a few of them briefly, to see how far they go in terms of making and applying rules to their members. They are, by the way, and not incidentally, almost exclusively monopolies. It is an interesting fact that while combinations of actual businesses fall under the spotlight of hyper-active competition authorities in almost all parts of the world, no authority or mechanism exists to limit or control the behaviour of these sectoral regulatory organisations. It may be said (they would say) that they are democratically run by their members. Even if that is true, which it may be in some cases, Adam Smith had plenty to say about the likely behaviour of combinations of businessmen, and they have not changed their spots! In reality, many of these organizations are run as self-perpetuating oligarchies. This is an aspect of globalization which makes democrats and market liberals queasy. It is discussed more fully in Chapter 8, The Future of the State.