International commerce now plays a central role in the economic life of most nations. As the new century begins, goods and services move more freely among countries than ever before. The same is true for capital, know-how, and technology. Ongoing declines in the cost of long-distance communication and transportation, as well as in national restrictions on international trade and investment, have allowed economies around the world to become increasingly integrated, thereby enhancing productivity growth and expanding consumer choices in every corner of the globe. In parts of the developing world and especially in East Asia, this process of’ globalization’ has been accompanied by an increase in living standards hardly imagined just a generation ago.