The World Trade Organization reported last week that China had overtaken the United States as the second biggest exporter in the world.
One could react to this news by complaing about China's competitive advantages: low wages, the artificially low exchange rate for the yuan, and weak environmental protection, for starters. Or one could wonder: Who is number one?
For the fifth straight year, the world champion export nation is Germany. A country boasting high wages, a robustly valued euro, and strong environmental laws. In 2007, Germany exported $1.327 trillion dollars worth of goods; China, $1.218; and the U.S, $1.163.
How does Germany do it? That's a big question, probably too big for a little blog post. The main point to be made here is that thriving in the global economy does not inevitably require a race to the bottom. The German perch at the top proves otherwise.