Image: By ICAPlants (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Image: By ICAPlants (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Global Progressive Industrial Policy: an Alternative for more Social Justice

Smitha Francis, Lila Cabarello, Cédric Durand

International economic relations today are characterised by two important aspects: the climate crisis, which has long been affecting the living conditions of millions of people, and the major repositioning of countries with regard to their economic power. While parts of Europe and Latin America will decline economically, China and other areas in Southeast Asia are building up strong economies. Other areas, especially in the sub-Saharan region, will continue to be marginalised economically and will have to sell their resources below value so they can finance imports on which they are becoming increasingly dependent.

The result is increasing competition between countries, regions and companies. This is illustrated by the unending war waged by the USA and its allies in the Middle East, as well as the more civilised negotiations on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements. TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations between the USA and the EU are aimed at the markets of the South, as is TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement), whereby India and China in particular, as well as the large BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are to be forced to stop protecting their services sectors. This ruthless battle of the one per cent against workers, above all in the Global South, is leading to ever-increasing rifts in society.

What alternatives are there? The escalating climate crisis calls for local solutions and regional economic cycles because, for climate reasons alone, we simply can no longer afford to cart cut-price throwaway consumer goods around the world in container ships. So free trade is not viable as a model either. Ideally, all regions in the world would produce their own capital and consumer goods themselves as far as possible, and reduce their trade relations to the absolute minimum.

In this situation, the pursuit of a progressive industrial policy for all regions around the world is not merely an alternative economic policy because at the social level this concept of a progressive industrial policy is based on inclusion and democratic co-determination as the basis for qualifying work which contributes to socio-economic reproduction in the community.

We intend to define a progressive industrial policy according to socio-economic, feminist and economic considerations in collaboration with our partners and put it forward for discussion.

We would like to make a start here with two case studies (from Smitha Francis and Lila Cabarello/ActionAid) of how a progressive industrial policy in India and Bangladesh can contribute to socio-economic, feminist and economic transformation to ensure more social equity. These two reports are supplemented by a more general view (from Cédric Durand) of the requirements of a globalised world, and by the question of which conditions industrial policy must satisfy in order to be progressive.

Towards a progressive industrial policy in times of global value chains and free trade agreementsPDF file

Toward a progressive rejuvenation of industrial policyPDF file

Coalitions of the willing: how the state, firms and civil society can achieve development through industrialisationPDF file