Prof. Dr hab. Grzegorz W. Ko)) in Warsaw, and John C. Evans
Scholar in European Studies at the University of Rochester, New York.
His intimidating credentials also include playing a vital role in Poland's
entry into both the European Union and OECD and writing 30 books and
about 300 articles and research papers, published in translation in
No wonder his lecture which dwelt on developing nations' strategies
for fast growth in a globalised market attracted the likes of Professor
Pat Utomi, Dr Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and Prefessor Osita Eze, Director,
Democracy and Development Studies in Abuja.
In this interview with newsmen just before the lecture, Professor Kolodko
throws more light on the challenges before Nigeria and other developing
nations in the bid to close the development gaps between them and the
rich countries in this era of common world market.
What is your stand on globalisation and do you think that the trend
is good for the third world, especially African nations?
Globalisation implies that there is growing liberalisation which is
followed by integration of the markets for capital, for goods, technology
and labour. With such a definition I would say that for most of the
countries globalisation brings about additional new chances and opportunities.
There are new trends, risks, new opportunities, and possibilities. There
is the need for every nation's leaders, intellectuals, businessmen to
take advantage of the chances or to be exposed to risks. But I would
say that there are some countries that are in a better position to reap
from globalisation because of the legacy from the past, because of the
culture component and because of the geo-political position. So from
this perspective, Nigeria is in a better position than say, Chad. Or
Poland is in a better position than say Moldova which is a tiny east
European country... so in the case of Nigeria and Poland- and I am saying
this not because I am in Nigeria now and I am from Poland - I am positive
that the countries stand to reap from new additional chances provided
Those are opportunities to trade much more, to attract more foreign
capital, take advantage of new technologies, and new managerial skills.
So the balance is positive. But it is true that you are also exposed
to risks. So when we pay more for our participation in the global economic
game, I am not blaming the foreign global companies or international
financial organisations or the government of other countries. I would
rather blame my own people, our bureaucracy, our political leaders,
our business people who lack the managerial skills and our policy makers
whose policies are not working. There is always a tendency worldwide
when there are problems to blame responsibility on something else instead
of blaming it on the weakness of the domestic political scene or weakness
of the institutions or whatever. They always blame God, or Americans
or Germans or the world bank, or the IMF.
Are you saying that the developing world's hostility towards globalisation
is misplaced. Are they not right when they raise the issue of imbalance
in the development index which determines a nations performance in the
Well, I am not naive and I know that a lot of people have made the
point that the rich countries are gaining more from globalisation. The
rich countries always say that they are very much concerned about inequality,
poverty all over the world, but whether they are actually fighting those
global ills is another thing.
But I am saying that majority of the countries that have embraced
globalisation, including developing nations enjoy more additional chances
for growth than attached costs. How good is the game depends on the
quality of the institutions, quality of strategy for development, quality
of political leadership at a given time. So even if one has a favourable
geopolitical position like Czech Republic or Poland or Hungary or Nigeria
or Mexico in America or Indonesia in South east Asia, if there are weak
institutions, or lousy policies, lack of interest in investing in infrastructure,
in human capital in education, there is no way globalisation will succeed.
But I am very much critical as far as the attitude of the G-7 nations
and the international organisations is concerned, towards addressing
global issues especially as the international monetary fund policy has
failed very many times in some places including some African countries
and former communist countries of the eastern Europe and former Soviet
Union at least at the early stages of transition.
Their attitude towards our opening up, liberalisation, privatisation,
structural adjustment sometimes are ill-advised.
As far as Washington is concerned every country has to privatise and
liberalise as much as possible. So this concept hardly work in any emerging
market as it were. It may work if supported by proper domestic policies
and coordinated international efforts. These institutional arrangements
which we have now - G-7, World bank, IMF, regional development banks,
WTO - are hardly compatible with the challenge of the contemporary world.
That is the legacy of post colonialism, it is the legacy of the iron
contain, legacy of the east and West divide, or capitalism led by USA
or socialism led by Soviet union. Actually I think that in forthcoming
decades this institutional set up of the world economy has to be retailored.
What has been proved for instance during the recent WTO meeting in
Cancun is that there is now better coordination within developing countries
like Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Brazil. I think one has to pay very
big attention to China. Whoever is neglecting China is not understanding
what is going on in contemporary world and what is going on in world
economy. China is now a force because of its great economy and large
population which is about ten times the population of Nigeria... . Policy
is about co-ordination and about compromise. Very many things have changed
as far as co-ordination between developing countries is concerned. And
this is what is necessary; to coordinate better and have a common agenda
to create some contact point with the rich, countries of the world.
Just like what we had recently at the African summit I think it is a
good thing because it is a message to the European union, to North America,
to Japan, China to everybody that the guys in this part of the world
are capable of sitting down together to agree on what their priorities
Is it possible for developing nations to 'catch up' with the richer
countries economically as some advocates of globalisation would say?
One of my books which I brought here is called 'Globalisation and
Catching up in Transition Economies'. I am a great fan of the catching
up process and I think that if the development attitude is well tailored,
there are many countries which have the historical chance to catch up
especially because of globalisation. That is opening up, liberalisation
and integration with the world economy. I wouldn't say that it as an
option for everybody. And what does catching up mean? Catching up implies
that there are countries that have been given the chance to grow and
expand much faster than they were before or even faster than the rate
of growth in the rich countries on the average.
In Poland we believe that just because of integration with the rest
of Europe our catching up process will be quicker. We can look at the
experience of Greece and Ireland. Ireland did catch up with Britain
and they now have a higher GDP than Britain. Thirty years ago this sounded
like a joke. But Greece is not catching up since they joined the EU.
And you ask yourself why. I think what makes the difference is the strategy
for development. I think that if we discuss the matter, even in 25 years
definitely you will not catch up with the developed world. So many countries
will be catching up in the sense that they will be growing much faster
than the rich countries. The gap will not be closed, at least not in
our life time.
It seems that even as the rich countries favour globalisation more
than the developing ones, there seem to be a conflict in the sense that
the Western world is growing weary of the trend of rapid growth in some
countries. For instance, the Americans seem not to be comfortable any
more with the growth of IT industry in India. What does that portend
The example you have given is just a good one to demonstrate that
developing nations are capable of taking good advantage of globalisation,
liberalisation and integration of the world economy. The development
of the IT industry on Banglore is very good for India. It shows that
capital acts in such a way that it moves to where there is comparative
advantage and that is India. It may happen also in Nigeria assuming
there is good regulation and good quality of human capital. It wouldn't
happen in Poland.
Because of different language. Lingua franca as an important factor
in contemporary global economy, whether you like it or not, is English.
And that gives you a tremendous advantage over countries which are not
English speaking. If India was not English speaking and if the software
experts were not proficient in the language, the Americans wouldn't
have been interested in the Indian market. I think that we have to continue
with liberalisation but always there is a regulation.
Even the most liberal zealots, also learn at the end of the day that
free market economy is about regulation. Free market economy does not
mean that everything is allowed and everybody does whatever he wants.
This is chaos, this is anarchy, that will lead to economic catastrophe.
So what we are actually looking for is a kind of re-regulation. But
there is a risk there again because having said so, we are giving a
great deal of power to our policy makers and to our legislature on how
to regulate our economic activity, especially when they are the difficult
type. There is a temptation to over-regulate. But the truth is that
there are things you have to put under control and there are things
you have to let go. Free trade is good for a developing country if it
is free. If it is free in the sense that everybody can sell whatever
they want from coke to digital recorders, mobile phones, cars. When
I was jogging this morning ( last Friday) I saw that you have India
made Tata trucks here. But you have difficulty in access of your products
to the global market. And that is the hypocrisy when we say let us open
our markets and then you are opening and I am not opening my own market.
This is a slur in global relations and we have to work it out.
What can be done to improve Polish-Nigeria relations which seemed
to have been better before the collapse of communism?
I am afraid you are right that relations were better once upon a time.
They were better with some African countries than they were with others.
This was because of the prevailing global trend at the time. We did
have regimes that were more socialist oriented that had their own approach.
And there were certain industries like ship building, fisheries, food
processing which were targeting the market here but they were mainly
government driven. But now we rely much more on the private sector.
The question is what to do to encourage the private sector or the business
circle to be more active or get more actively in touch. In the case
of some countries including Nigeria, for the kind of expectations for
improvement to take shape, certain things may have to be clarified.
Such things as regulations, institutions, infrastructure, policy making,
transparency, etc. Some companies may be reluctant to go to Nigeria
because it is considered - rightly or wrongly - to be too risky. And
for the investor who has his eye on returns, he may prefer to go to
Mexico instead of Nigeria or to South Asia instead of Africa.
But I think there is also some ideological component in this. After
the collapse of socialism recently there emerged pro-Western bias. So
everybody is looking towards the west. It has become even more so after
we joined the European union. But even then we can still do business
with Nigeria in such areas as maritime, ship building, fisheries, food