Globalisation: an overview

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Globalisation: An overview

1 Humans have always engaged in cultural exchange, the dissemination of knowledge, and the trade of goods and services. In the 1st century BC, luxury products from China were hauled for thousands of miles along the Silk Road to Europe. At that time, trade stopped being a local or regional affair and had started to become global. However, some important recent developments have accelerated this process of globalisation.

2 In the 1970s, world economies opened up and the development of free trade policies accelerated the globalization phenomenon. Between 1950 and 2010, world exports increased 33-fold. This significantly contributed to increasing the interactions between different regions of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the world became more interconnected. This is because the communist bloc countries, which had previously been intentionally isolated from the capitalist West, began to integrate into the global market economy. 3 Technological advances, including mobile phones and especially the internet, have contributed to globalization by connecting people all over the globe. The World Wide Web links billions of people and devices, providing innumerable opportunities for the exchange of goods, services, cultural products, knowledge, and ideas.

4 Free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico signed in 1992, removed barriers to the free flow of people, goods, and services, thereby facilitating greater trade, investment, and migration across national borders. While NAFTA has been criticized for moving almost three-quarters of a million manufacturing jobs out of the United States and into Mexico, US trade with Mexico increased substantially as a direct result of the agreement.

5 However, the increasing interconnectedness of the world economy and international finance has heightened the risk of global economic catastrophe. This is because banking or financial failures in one country will lead to crises in other countries, and become internationalized rather than remaining isolated. This was the case with the Great Recession of 2008-2009, during which the financial crisis in the US subprime mortgage market led to a global economic meltdown.

6 Finally, many commentators argue that cultural globalisation has homogenized the world’s cultures. Specific cultural characteristics from some countries are disappearing. From languages to traditions or even specific industries. That’s why according to UNESCO, the mix between the benefits of globalization and the protection of local culture’s uniqueness requires a careful approach.

7 Many critics have also pointed out that globalization has negative effects on the environment. Thus, the massive development of transport that has been the basis of globalization is also responsible for serious environmental problems such as greenhouse gas emissions, global warming or air pollution. Global economic growth and industrial productivity have big environmental consequences as they contribute to the depletion of natural resources, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. The worldwide distribution of goods is also creating a big garbage problem, especially on what concerns plastic pollution.

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