Globalisation is the increased integration of the economies across the globe that has turned the world into a global village. The globalisation process involved the increased mobility of labour, capital, trade, technology and the interdependence of national economies (Glenn, 2012). Globalisation is fuelled by government policies aimed at expanding domestic and international economies in efforts to boost the standards of living in poorer countries. However, the creation of free markets has been one-sided in the sense that it has created a monopoly dominated by multinational corporations, to the detriment of cultures and small businesses. One of the most significant aspects of globalisation is that it has created cultural homogeneity across the world. As such, products that were only available in the west are now consumed in the east and vice versa. However, globalisation is not a modern concept. During the ancient days, traders travelled long distances in such of rare commodities like gold, spices, and salt so that they could sell them back at home. Similarly, during the 19th century, the advances in transportation and communication increased cross-border trade. In the last few decades, globalisation has grown tremendously driven by technology and public policy. Governments across the world have integrated free markets via trade and fiscal policies in the last 20 years leading to increased industrialisation (Steger, 2013). However, the continuous expansion of globalisation leads to critical questions. Is it inevitable, irreversible or can the process be slowed down? The paper will explore the concept of globalisation and unravel the debate that revolves around the issue.
Globalisation is inevitable and irreversible. The process has promoted interconnectedness in the world through the creation of efficient communication and transportation channels. Countries or areas that were out of reach can now be easily accessed. The growth of transportation infrastructure has promoted trade among countries. People can now purchase products in any part of the world and have it delivered to their home localities. The efficient transportation system has also facilitated international trade, like the exchange of raw materials for monetary and other fiscal benefits (Glen, 2012). The expanding technological breakthroughs in transportation will even enhance more interconnectedness in the world. For instance, the growth in air travel has made it possible for people to efficiently travel from one country to another. New technological advancement will make it cheaper and easier to travel. In the future, the fast transportation systems will mean that people will travel to any part of the world in minutes. For instance, if SpaceX is to successfully complete its BFR transportation system and it becomes operational, Elon Musk the CEO and founder is optimistic that people will travel in any part of the world in less than an hour (Baylis, Smith " Owens, 2017). Therefore, globalisation is an inevitable phenomenon based on the technological advancement in transportation. China has developed and is funding the silk road trade pattern with its trans-continental railroad due to the numerous trade links the country has developed. It only takes about two weeks for computer merchandise to travel from China to Germany via rail as compared to about one to two months on the water. On the other hand, communication is another aspect that makes the world a village. The growth of the internet and social media networks like Facebook means that people can communicate freely in any part of the world. There are other internet technologies that facilitate money payment platforms such as PayPal which promotes access to financial services. One can send and receive money swiftly in any part of the world. Therefore, globalisation has led to the sharing of technological breakthroughs meaning that its impact is inevitable.
Globalisation promotes efficient markets that promote economic growth. When an economy grows, it affects other nations connected to it because globalisation is a partnership between organizations and partnerships. The efficiency of the markets is also illustrated by the ability to set up new factories in many parts of the world where there are cheap labour and access to raw materials. Most computer electronic devices are manufactured in Southeast Asia and China because the regions experience labour surplus. Global companies through government partnerships are able to set up and start operation. Efficiency in the market promotes wealth distribution across the world. Globalisation leads to increased standards of living by creating jobs, infrastructural developments and access to health resources (Glenn, 2012).
The growth of multinationals is an indication of the irreversibility and inevitability of globalisation. According to the new trade theory, multinational companies promote specialisation and economies of scale. In reality, companies have become more specialised and produce large volumes of output. The companies have heavily invested in production technologies that aim at reducing the costs of manufacturing and labour while maximising revenues. Furthermore, multinational companies enjoy the economies of scale due to their expansion to foreign markets. A glocalized approach has enabled companies to reap the best out of a foreign market (Baylis, Smith " Owens, 2017). The concept implies the application of the global and local approach. Localisation enables companies to study the consumer behaviour and trade laws with the aim of getting hold of the market share. The strategy enables global companies to fiercely compete with local companies. However, due to their huge financial capital and economies of scale, some multinational companies absorb local companies creating more employment opportunities and creating a diverse range of products that suit both the local and international markets. In the developed world, the backlash for multinational dominance has not affected their growth. The companies have managed to absorb the negative energy by creating local and differentiated products. The consumption of multinational corporation products has created an aspect of cultural homogeneity. For instance, the McDonalds restaurant chain is present in over a hundred countries. The success of the company has been termed “McDonaldisation” of the society because people from other cultures consume its products (Baylis, Smith " Owens, 2017). The company has been successful in China and Japan which shows the homogeneity of product consumption that is not limited by cultural norms and practices.
Another aspect of the growing inevitability and irreversibility of globalisation is the reliance on global production. For instance, the UK car manufacturers rely on foreign components such as tires and engines. It would be nearly impossible to return to a scenario where the production was 100% UK (Glen, 2012). The supply chains have grown exponentially without a distinction in boundaries. It is even cheaper to outsource certain components of the production process than to locally manufacture them. The presences of global logistics companies such as DHL have enhanced the sustainability of global supply chains. The UK is not the only country that relies on foreign products. Most companies across the world in different countries use the same model. Another example is through Airbus. Airbus supply chain runs across Europe. Some products are manufactured in the UK and Germany and assembled in France. Companies and nations can enjoy huge cost breakdown by outsourcing an aspect that has led to the growth in the world trade. According to studies, the international trade has grown at a faster pace than the world’s GDP. In the post-World War Two periods starting from 1945, the global trade has grown by 7% annually compared to 3% in the past (Steger, 2013). The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has encouraged many countries to join the institution to promote trade liberation and growth. The WTO promotes international trade by creating rules and policies that govern the exchange of goods and services. It is impossible to indulge in unfair competition practices that were prevalent in the 1930s that promoted trade barriers and tariffs (Steger, 2013). The World Trade Organisation enhances equality in the international market. Such international bodies promote transparency in global trade leading a more inevitable and irreversible process of globalisation.
International immigration is influenced by the process of globalisation. People can now live and work in the countries they desire. Due to labour shortages in certain countries like Germany and the UAE, people from diverse origins can live and work in these countries. However, due to the changing dynamics of globalisation, countries are shifting towards the acquisition of more skilled labour. Skilled immigration has become a contentious issue in most developed countries because it implies a change in policies. Countries have to change their immigration reforms to attract more skilled workers. A skilled immigration policy is closely tied to economic growth and development. The change in immigration policies has made even countries with skilled manpower to open doors for a skilled workforce. As such, immigration promotes cultural diversity and integration across the world. Globalisation has enabled countries to respect each other’s cultural backgrounds and to provide conducive interaction environment (Martin, 2014). With this note, globalisation remains an inevitable and irreversible process.
On the contrary, critics argue that the process of globalisation is not inevitable. In the past, depressions, wars, and short-sighted policies have reversed the global integration of technology, communication, transportation, trade, and culture. Globalisation could be disrupted again if the world experienced prolonged unemployment in the major world economies such as the US, Japan, China, among others. The impact of widespread unemployment would be xenophobic immigration, competitive devaluations, and protectionist policies. Likewise, the growing threat of terrorism posed by ISIS, Taliban, al-Qaeda and rogue nations could increase barriers to trade and tighter border patrol measures (Martin, 2014). On the other hand, if a vast majority found that globalisation only benefitted the elite nations, people would rise up and governments would implement measures to maintain their sovereignty leading to liberalization of trade. In the scenarios highlighted, globalisation is not an inevitable process. The progress achieved by globalisation could be reversed by war due to the growing arms race, and foreign policy measures that could invoke conflicts (Martin, 2014).
Some scholars argue that the process of globalisation is reversible due to bias in one way or another. Therefore, globalisation does not benefit every nation due to these biases. According to historical studies, globalisation has always had a varying degree in which it has been unfavourable and detrimental to some countries while conducive to others. The domestic and international debates about the actors that benefit from globalisation show the imbalance of the risks or benefits that many countries experience due to a globalisation. Furthermore, globalisation has taken different forms in different periods since the 19th century (Steger, 2013). For instance, before World War One, colonialism was one of the biggest impacts of globalisation. Colonialism was a type of predatory globalisation in which the West attacked uncivilised nations, enforced their culture and language for raw materials and domination. The form of globalisation was dominated by Western powers, developed nations benefited while semi-colonial and colonial developing countries were reduced to passive participants. As much as some developing nations benefited from globalisation, the gains were very limited. Now, there is a paradigm shift in globalisation. There is a continuous growth in economic activities of the East while the West remains stagnant (Steger, 2013).
Factors that could slow down globalisation
The use of protectionist policies by countries could lead to a slow down of globalisation. Protectionism follows the principle of tariff imposition on imported commodities. Tariffs are a barrier to trade. When countries issue trade tariffs, it implies that imported goods become expensive in the local economy. In the aftermath, people shift their attention substitutes that are produced domestically and are cheaper. However, protectionist policies could lead to retaliation from exporting countries (Newell " Roberts, 2016). To counter the tariffs imposed on their goods, exporting countries can also implement trade taxes against imports from a country that imposed protectionist policies. For instance, President Trump has continued with his rhetoric for America alone stating that he would impose trade tariffs against cheap Chinese products that have flooded the American market. Trump also argued that he would tax US companies manufacturing abroad. In retaliation, the Chinese minister of trade responded by arguing that China would even enforce stricter measures against US products (Baylis, Smith " Owens, 2017). In summation, trade barriers via protectionist policies would slow down globalisation.
Another factor that could hinder globalisation is the environmental cost. The depletion of natural resources and severe effects of global warming such as extreme weather patterns could shock the global growth reversing the gross domestic product to that of the post-war period. The depletion of resources would also mean that countries would enforce more protectionist policies due to resource scarcity. If the oil reserves in OPEC countries declined and the price of oil increased due to difficulty obtaining the resource, there would be a limited international transport of both people and goods. Limited international contact would lead to the emergence of conflicts. For example, poorer countries would find it hard to obtain the resources and in turn blame their governments for failures leading to instability and conflict (Newell " Roberts, 2016).
In conclusion, globalisation is a very controversial issue due to the benefits and risks associated with the process. The question of inevitability and irreversibility of the process is also hotly contested. Some argue that the benefits derived from globalisation make it an inevitable and irreversible process. Likewise, critics and those in support of deglobalisation argue that wars, depression have reversed the process in the past meaning that it is not inevitable. Similarly, there are measures to slow down globalisation such as protectionist trade policies and environmental costs. The bottom line is that globalisation is inevitable because the benefits outweigh the negative implications.
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