Globalization, like no other term, has gained in recent years a prominent position in nearly all branches of social science. Consequently, its definitions abound, also in economics – a discipline to which it has a special relevance. In economic terms, globalization is the historical process of gradual, yet persistent liberalization followed by the coalescence of the hitherto largely fragmented markets of goods, capital and labor into a single global market. The concurrent regional integration processes, should by no means be seen as a trend opposed to globalization, which they may even facilitate in some circumstances by moving integration to a higher level: from that of national economics up to that of international organizations, for instance, the EU integrating with NAFTA, ASEAN with CIS or Mercosur with Caricom. Thus defined globalization depends on a variety of circumstances and has numerous implications. It is an extremely dynamic and complex process which, therefore, allows of no unambiguous assessment.
Globalization is an irreversible process, although – as the experience of the last two or three years has shown – its progress can be significantly impeded in the short run by various kinds of political and economic shocks. So the idea is to follow an enlightened and wise development strategy and a well-coordinated policy - in this case, on the international and global scale - that would minimize the attendant problems and eliminate, as far as possible, the concomitant social stress. How to achieve this goal is the question the authors address in this volume.