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The Changing Balance of Power - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, has been ranked the third largest aircraft manufacturer behind Boeing and Airbus in the vital sector of aviation. This is an indication that new players have emerged in the international arena.

If we look at some of the most important institutions, their structures and influential members, it is apparent that they do not correspond to reality. For instance, the permanent members of the UN Security Council do not include Japan or Germany, home to the second and third largest economies in the world. India, the world’s largest democracy, is not a permanent member nor is any African or Latin American country.

China, India and South Korea, which have the fourth, twelfth and thirteenth largest economies in the world respectively, are not members of the G8.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is traditionally headed by a European and the president of the World Bank is American. This “tradition” is unfair and though it may be acceptable to their members it is astonishing to those outside of the executive framework.

This is largely reflected in the “disputes” that take place during international trade discussions, and in major industrial nations such as the USA, France, Germany and Britain heroically defending their agricultural quotas and rejecting violations against subsidies and assistance. This matter gives these countries an unfair competitive and preferential advantage at the expense of important and influential countries such as Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. Such treatment will provoke “nationalism” at the expense of the “reconciliation between countries” that globalization continuously seeks to achieve through its activities.

Russia and China feel that they are treated “unfairly” whilst the same issues in other countries are overlooked. For instance, the Chinese were surprised by the continuous focus on the human rights issue in their country whilst there is a complete disregard for the violations committed by Israel against the Palestinians.

Russia is also astonished by the fact that the issues of democracy and electoral violations were raised despite the numerous violations that occurred during the American elections at the hands of pressure groups, which cannot be overlooked or denied.

Both Russia and China strongly object to the pressure practiced by the major industrial nations that raise environmental issues and violations and accuse China and Russia of polluting the world whilst forgetting that the West is biggest perpetrator in this regard. Is there one rule for the West and another for them? This has increased rapprochement remarkably between Russia and China on various levels. Perhaps the rise in the number of visitors between the two countries is an indication of this as within ten years the number of Russian visitors to China increased from 489,000 in 1995 to 2.2 million in 2005.

Countries such as India, China, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and South Korea have become the most important force behind economic activity today; monitoring their increasing shares of oil barrels may indicate and explain the reasons behind the continuous hike in oil prices.

In the United States, oil consumption per capita per year is estimated at 25 barrels compared to India and China where the average is estimated at two barrels per capita. But when the populations of these large countries are taken into consideration, the situation can be better understood. The balances of power are changing; Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain will take a back seat and will be replaced by new players.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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