According to the World Bank, in the three decades between 1981 and 2010, we witnessed the single greatest decrease in material human deprivation in history. At a time when the population of the developing world has increased by almost 60%, the number of those in extreme poverty (subsisting on less than $1.25 per day) has dropped from around 50% to around 20%.We've also seen the largest movement in history of economic migrants from poor places to richer ones - from central and south America to the USA, from the Chinese hinterland to the coastal cities, from Africa northwards to Europe, from the poor Pacific to Australia. This is the downside of globalisation - the new unpoor, with their Chinese trainers, jeans and 2G phones, want it all within their lifespans, unwilling for a long domestic slog of gradual increases in prosperity and democracy.
No, I'm all for global trade - and for platforms that allow me to trade my goods or skills for goods or skills from other places. I'm all for earning $1000 for Alpine fossils from US collectors and spending $600 with a Mumbai web developer. No tariffs, no restrictions, except prohibitions that operate for the good of collective national security. And I just want the web developer to stay in Mumbai.
The other downside of the globalisation process from 1980 is the growth of the global corporates, growing not by endogenous improvements in productivity or increased sales but primarily by acquisitions and mergers that eliminate weaker competition and help create global oligopolies that restrict trade, erect barriers to entry to the market for competition and work with big government to consolidate wealth and power. And I'm afraid Liam Fox simply can't cite Adam Smith as supporting these monstrosities.
Smith's invisible hand only operates in free markets where huge numbers of individual producers and consumers allow supply and demand to fluctuate and equilibriate. This holds true even on a global scale. In conditions of monopoly or oligopoly, the invisible hand is amputated at the wrist. Adam Smith would spin in his grave at the idea that his work was being quoted in support of such threats to freedom as Bayer-Monsanto.