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The Limits of Global Liberalisation: Lessons from Asia and Latin America

Richard Higgott & Nicola Phillips

CSGR Working Paper No.22/99

January 1999



We are in the midst of a series of economic crises that have altered the economic and

socio-political fortunes of several heretofore rapidly developing states. At a second, more

abstract though no less significant level, the East Asian economic crises and the global contagion

that has emanated from them represent a set-back for the inexorable process of international

economic liberalisation that has come to be known as ‘globalisation’. On the eve of the twentyfirst

century we are experiencing the first serious challenges to the hegemony of neoliberalism as

the dominant form of economic organisation since the end of the Cold War. This resistance is not

uniform, nor is it restricted to one site or group of actors. Moreover, in many instances,

resistance is often to practice more than to principle. Events in Asia and Latin America represent

less the final ideological triumph of liberalism in a post-Cold War era rather than a context for

rethinking the significant aspects of the neoliberal project. The aim of this paper, embedded in a

comparative discussion of the initial economic crises in East Asia with unfolding events in Latin

America, is to make some judgements about the broader implications for the potential

management of the global economic order at the end of the twentieth century.



Keywords: Global liberalisation, crises of globalisation, free market fundamentalism, policy

reform, regional projects.



Address for correspondence:

Nicola Phillips

Department of Politics and International Studies

University of Warwick

Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK.