Globalization Isn’t Dead, It’s Only Just Beginning

Once upon a time, globalization simply meant the export of Western culture to the rest of the world. Now the world is turning the tables

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ramin Talaie / Bloomberg / Getty Images

A container ship is loaded with cargo in Newark Bay in Elizabeth, N.J., on Oct. 1, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk these days that globalization is dead, even reversing — and for good reason. It seems that many of the factors that had been driving globalization have run out of steam. The growth of trade, which has long outpaced the expansion of the world economy, has slowed in recent years. Negotiations to forge a new global-trade agreement, the Doha Round through the World Trade Organization, have been stalled for years. Evolving technology is altering the manufacturing industry and convincing some U.S. firms to shorten supply lines and even “reshore,” returning factory work back to America and making production more local and less global.

But ignore the naysayers: globalization is very much alive and well. The White House, for instance is engaged in a renewed push for free trade with proposed pacts with the European Union and a collection of Asian and Latin American nations under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. More importantly, though, globalization is changing in key ways. It is knitting together a society that, more than ever, is truly global.

In the past, globalization was to a great degree a one-way street — from the developed to the developing world. Money and technology flowed from the U.S. and Europe into China, India and other low-income countries, drawing them into the global trading system. The process was the same with ideas (democracy, capitalism, Marxism) and culture (popular music, social networking, fast food, Hollywood movies). Emerging nations had few connections between themselves, and limited influence over world politics and finance.

Now, though, the rise of China, India and other emerging economies is shifting that old, one-way globalization into a new, vibrant multilateral globalization, with major consequences for how our world works.

Look at what’s happening in the global economy these days. The giant populations of China, India and Indonesia were participating in the world economy mainly as workers; they had meager economic power in their own right. Not anymore.

More than half of humanity now lives in South and East Asia, and Chinese and Indian consumers have become the most sought after in the world. Global commerce is changing as a result. General Motors, for instance, sells more cars in China than in America; Yum! Brands cooks up more Kentucky Fried Chicken for Chinese diners than Americans. Hotels and travel agencies from Paris to Bali are striving to accommodate Chinese and Indian tourists. The storied design houses of Europe have opened lavish flagship stores in Asia, which is set to account for more than half of the world’s luxury-goods market within the next 10 years.

Emerging-market companies are becoming equally important global players. Apple’s chief rival is not a European or even Japanese company, but South Korea’s Samsung; China’s Huawei is the new force in telecom. Firms from emerging nations are becoming more important global investors and job creators too. Chinese pork processor Shuanghu is buying America’s Smithfield; Ford offloaded Volvo to China’s Geely and Jaguar to India’s Tata. Companies like China’s Lenovo and India’s Wipro are true multinationals that employ people throughout the globe.

Most importantly, emerging markets are linking up to each other in ways never witnessed before. In the past, global trade tended to flow between poor and rich countries, but that has changed dramatically.

According to the Asian Development Bank, almost 56% of Asia’s exports went to markets within the region in 2012, up from 41.6% in 1990. In 1995, total trade between India and China was less than $1.1 billion; in 2012, it surged to almost $69 billion. Over that same time frame, total trade between China and Russia increased from under $5.5 billion to over $88 billion. Free-trade agreements among emerging economies have proliferated in recent years, especially within Asia.

Global politics and finance are no longer dominated by just a few powerful nations either. The G-8 has been replaced by the G-20 as the main global discussion forum, giving greater voice to nations like Turkey, South Africa and Brazil. Tiny Persian Gulf state Qatar is using its financial clout to muscle in on Middle East geopolitics. According to a recent survey from the Bank for International Settlements, China’s yuan entered the list of top 10 most traded currencies for the first time.

Similarly, culture is becoming increasingly globalized as well. How else can you explain grammar-school kids in the Boston suburbs dancing to a song in Korean performed by a guy named Psy? Or young people in Seattle or Denver driving to anime conventions in their Hyundais and comparing notes over dim sum afterward? Hundreds of Confucius Institutes promoting Chinese language and culture have popped up around the world. Bollywood flicks and Korean soap operas are wildly popular around Asia.

All of these trends are set to continue. Companies you’ve probably never heard of before might one day offer you a job; what the central bank of India does will impact your stock portfolio; your kids will be downloading music and movies from every corner of the world if they don’t already. Globalization is deepening, becoming more inclusive and more balanced between different parts of the planet. And it is introducing us all to new ideas, products and arts. Globalization is not just still with us; it’s just getting started.

13 comments
victorygardens369
victorygardens369

We do not need wars any more guys.  We have the NSA creating and protecting real markets like the opium trade in Afghanistan, keeping the middle east destabilized and above all the shell game of why why have no jobs here at home.  Oh that's right the kids are just lazy or over educated or un-educated or the wrong kind of education. They are getting to know that b*^&h Sally Mae real well though. I mean just keep the dollar real high, keep pumping in that $87 billion a MONTH to the bond market, just as long as you dont mess with the hope of my generation (56) to retire (laugh).  I mean we are a christian nation and everyone else is bad guys right?  Globalization is double speak for cheapest labor gets all the jobs, obviously!

SHOCKPROOF
SHOCKPROOF

Tide has Turned...slowly but definitely surely! Soon, we (North America) will be the one manufacturing products for Asian & India. -- SHOCKPROOF

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

We have always had a "global economy". The tea dumped in the Boston Harbor in 1773 was coming from the Orient ... not being exported from the Colonies. But this is the first in 200 years that the United States has exported the it's JOBS. You can thank Washington DC.

BorisIII
BorisIII

Africa is next to join globalization. 

ChinaLee
ChinaLee

We are seeing globalization, because China is finally catching up to the U.S. in all aspects of power.

1. China exports $2 trillion of goods annually, which is number one in the world.

2. According to BP, China consumes 15% more total energy than the United States. In 2011, China consumed 2,613 MTOE (ie. million tonne of oil equivalent) and the U.S. only consumed 2,269 MTOE.

3. In electricity consumption, China consumed 29% more electricity than the United States. In 2012, China consumed 5 trillion kilowatt-hours and the U.S. only consumed 3.88 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

4. China has caught up in thermonuclear weapons. China has the world's largest deployed thermonuclear warhead at five megatons on the DF-5A ICBM. Also, China successfully tested its DF-41 10-MIRVed ICBM on July 24, 2012. According to NTI, China has at least 294 megatons of themonuclear warheads.

In conclusion, China has matched or exceeded the United States in important economic and military metrics. With equal economic and military power, China is now in a position to stand up to the United States as an equal. Hence, globalization logically follows.

arvay
arvay

Americans, take note.

Claims that we are an "exceptional" nation are going to be laughed at and scorned by the global audience. This is in the end a very positive thing for us. National maturity looms.

Heretofore, rapid developments and progress have often been the fruits of populations brought together by imperial conquest. Now, globalization is doing the job in a relatively peaceful way. Enormous stores of human creativity ware being released. If we can just avoid conflicts and learn to talk to each other and learn from each other.

zeustiak
zeustiak

@arvay It takes 2 to tango.  Peace will rely as much on China and other nations as it will the US.  

duduong
duduong

@Leftcoastrocky @ChinaLee 

Wrong and wrong. Chinese per capita CO2 emission is still just 1/3 of the US level. Cumulatively over the past 200 years, Chinese emission is less than 1/8 of that of the US. American pollution in the 19th century far outstrips China in every aspect on a per capita basis. The US only seems to pollute less because it has fewer people and gets to grab new virgin lands from the Indians.

arvay
arvay

@zeustiak @arvay 

i heartily agree. 

The Chinese government has made admirable economic progress and is starting to loosen its control mechanisms, but its reluctance to drop the "Great Internet Wall" is evidence that they are still afraid of the inevitable. If they start to see free expression as a safety valve rather than a threat, they will, I think, move forward more rapidly. 

Most of all, we need to avoid wars and militaristic posturing. 

This applies to us, China and everyone else. We waste enormous resources on things that we hope will never be used. Nuts, really. 

Japan needs, I think, to face the fact that China cannot be prevented from being the major force in East Asia. And China needs to learn that threats are counterproductive. Perhaps every major negotiation should begin with expert lectures on what the consequences of military conflict between the parties would be.

America needs to realize that it cannot continue to make threats -- as we have against Iran -- as a way to ease anxiety about its nuclear program. If we settle this issue, we'll take a major step toward a more peaceful world. One less block to a more interrelated world. 

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

@duduong @Leftcoastrocky @ChinaLee (Since you brought up American Indians)

Environmental exploitation of Tibet by China
  • Over half of Tibet’s available forest stock has been felled and exported to China.
  • Qulong in Tibet is home to copper deposits of more than 10m tonnes, in addition to other valuable metals. Mining and mineral extraction are now a significant proportion of economic activity but few Tibetans receive financial benefits.
  • The building of the Yamdrok Tso hydropower station damaged the Yamdrok Tso lake.
  • The Indian government has reported that three nuclear missile sites are located inside Tibet. Nuclear waste has also been dumped near Lake Kokonor, Tibet’s largest lake.
  • The Tibetan Antelope has been driven to the brink of extinction due to its habitat being destroyed, changes to land use and unregulated hunting

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

@duduong @Leftcoastrocky @ChinaLee China is  the world's number one carbon emitter, and accounted for 70 per cent of the global increase in 2012.


"China and the United States have nearly the same amount of installed electricity capacity, though in China it's nearly all coal-fired. China's massive coal stations, many of them built in the past decade, together have more than double the capacity of U.S. coal facilities. And while the United States currently has plans to add 36 new coal plants, China intends to add ten times that amount."