Current global political and economic trends have once again drawn attention to one of world’s most controversial phenomena – Globalisation.
Popular economist, Joseph Stiglitz famously defined globalisation as ‘the closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world…brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transport and communication and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the flows of goods, services, knowledge, and people, across borders’. It is the interaction and integration of people across the world through financial flows, international trade, and investments, aided by technology and policies. With globalisation, territorial and geographical boundaries are no longer obstacles to inter-continental relations; events in one part of the world affect the rest of the world; and the world has become a global village.
Although scholars are not in agreement on the origin of globalisation however, it became more popular and accepted after the industrial revolution with the advent of technology, the increase in production and distribution capabilities, and urbanization/migration. Besides, the end of the Second World War; the breakdown of barriers to global trade and human movement, and the creation of alliances, gave deeper roots to globalisation.
The creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the United Nations was instrumental in the integration of world economies. Likewise, the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional alliances have remained strengtheners of globalisation. Moreover, trade , environmental, territorial and international treaties as well as other inter-border alliances remain major sustainers of globalisation.
Economic globalisation through free movement of goods, services, and persons across borders have no doubt led to global economic development through global transfer of wealth and knowledge, higher productivity and gradual economic convergence. Similarly, political globalisation through inter-continental relations, international relations, and bonding national policies have integrated the world and reduced regional and international aggressions. Therefore, it can be argued that globalisation brought about global trade, reduction in global conflict, and minimal threats of global war.
Nevertheless, some scholars argue against the good in globalisation; an integrated world is likened to woven strings with a pull on one point resulting to pressure on other points. Globalisation exposes all nations to a similar fate, which explains why the 2008 financial crisis had far reaching global effects. Hence, globalisation has not only brought about positive benefits to the world at large, its seeds have also yielded threats to its survival.
Currently, recent developments such as Brexit, rise of nationalism, oil price fall; investment cuts; ban on importation; and most recently, the temporary ban by the United States on seven countries from entering the US as well as other immigration restrictions many citizens of the world might likely face in months to come; are some of the implications of globalisation which now threaten the survival of the concept of globalisation in itself. These provoke a rethink about whether, globalisation is becoming extinct or the world is simply having a share of its own faults?
Strained Alliances: The end of the two World Wars is widely regarded to be the beginning of several alliances and agreements, which have culminated in providing assistance for developing nations, ensuring world peace, and growing world economies. Recent developments however, pose threats to the survival of these hitherto beneficial alliances. The exit of Britain from the EU and the possibility of some other EU countries doing same could threaten the existence of the EU and defeat the initial motives behind its establishment. Moreover, the fact that the President of the World Power is skeptic about global warming suggests a looming threat on the success of both the recently signed Paris Agreement and the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Besides, the straining relationship between the US, UK, Australia, Mexico, Russia, and countries affected by the recent policies of the United States will further strain diplomatic relationships and the various alliances that bind them; erstwhile healthy relationships within NATO, OECD, G8 and could be in danger.
Again, the continuous rise of nationalism in all parts of the world poses danger on agreements and alliances that have over the years held the world together. World leading countries have continued to emphasise national sovereignty over other considerations. Daily, the US continues to display a commitment to shutting other nations out and nationalists in the EU are drawing more followers. Furthermore, many communities have continued to demand for secession; the success of Brexit would further empower Catalonia, Scotland, and even Biafran agitators in Nigeria in their secession struggle. Also, many countries are withdrawing from certain international alliances; Russia has already withdrawn its funding statues from the International Criminal Court (ICC) while UK has limited funding. Similarly, the Philippines, Kenya, Burundi, South Africa, and Gambia have indicated withdrawal interest from the court while US has shown indifference to NATO. Clearly, the rise of nationalism threatens global integration.
The dangers of strained global alliances lie in the reduction of support to developing nations, rise of inequality, increase in territorial disputes, and global economic meltdown.
Threatened Trade Relations: Fox News (December 16, 2016) reported that the election of President Trump as well as Brexit, are capable of hampering tariff-free trade and companies’ freedom of moving production to lower cost countries In as much as the world is already integrated, several countries are prone to bearing the economic brunt of any cuts or reversal in trade relations.
Moreover, with troubled economic conditions across continents, several countries have initiated cuts in investments in recent times. Nigeria has also suffered from a severe drop in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the beginning of its economic crises cum recession, which threatens the revival of the economy. FDI inflows are reported to have shrunk to zero in quarter 3, 2016 (National Bureau of Statistics). Cuts and fall in investments are unhealthy for global trade relations.
Global Economic Crises: Wide fluctuations in oil prices have been said to play an important role in driving recessions. Deloitte reports that the 1973 oil crisis drove the US and UK into economic recession that lasted a year. Oil price shocks of 1979-80 caused by the Iraq-Iran war also led the US economy into a recession. Over the years, any shock in oil prices created a ripple effect on global economic outlook.
The continued fall in oil prices is a primary cause of Nigeria’s recession, Canada presently suffers from economic crises occasioned by the oil crises, and Venezuela is going through its worst economic crises while Iraq is not an exception. Other oil producing countries have been compelled to readjust their economies to survive the continuously fluctuating oil prices. Unfortunately, such crises have a way of creating ripple effects in other nations since the planet is more interconnected than ever before and just as it happened in the 2008 global economic crises, big trouble on one side can ignite bigger troubles all over the globe. Already, falling stock markets, low commodity prices, risks of debt crises in developing countries and risks of inflation are signals to global economic crises. Yet, economists have warned of the possibility of another global economic crises.
Wars: The current immigration ban on seven countries by the US and the ensuing friction is capable of initiating dangerous reprisals from countries. The Brits for instance, have in a response made petitions asking for a ban on the US President from entering the British territory. It is therefore obvious that there is tension in global relations. Furthermore, a possible weakness in international alliances, agreements, and treaties poses a serious security danger for the unity of the world. A withdrawal of a strong nation from NATO for instance poses serious danger on world’s security.
Africa in the Midst of These
The world has hitherto enjoyed the benefits of globalisation but now, it has been overstretched; the flaws have surfaced, the risks are exposed; the world is tilting towards a possible ‘de-globalisation’ Unfortunately, Africa, one of the least developed continents stands in the centre of this irony.
In as much as the world has seemingly been knitted into a global village, a shake in the survival of globalisation suggests serious consequences for many countries, especially developing African countries. With current trends, more than in any other region, Africa is likely to experience a cut or total withdrawal of crucial aids and interventions, tightened immigration and trade laws from the US, UK and other developed nations as well as a reduction in trade relations, investments, and knowledge transfers. Moreover, there are dangers of heightened terrorism, unrests, and inequality, to mention a few.
Hence, Africa will only survive the brunt of the threats to globalisation if it urgently strives to develop its people and the continent as a whole as well as foster continental unity, and inwardly develop individual countries.
Although no nation or continent can lay claim to independence, current trends stress the need for every country to individually work on its economy, development and survival, in other to foster a globalized world. And in turn, any country or continent that fails to develop becomes the biggest victim of globalisation.