Thursday, 1 January 2015

Map: A globalized world (cf. page 71 of your textbook)

Description (what does the map show?):

This thematic (economic and political) map, dated 2005, shows the relative economic importance of the world’s countries, the principal flows of wealth and knowledge, principal oil fields, war zones, and regional integrating associations.

Features of the KEY, explained:

  • The Triad: USA, Japan, Europe are the members of the Triad (aka the oligopoly); they are the most powerful regions of the world economically.
  • The hyperpower: the USA, it dominates at all levels the rest of the world.
  • The other two powers: Japan and Europe, major economic powers but politically weaker than the USA.
  • Developed countries associated to the Triad: Canada, Australia, New Zealand are part of the “Anglosphere” and have highly developed economies closely integrated into the globalized economy.
  • Emerging countries: the economies of Brazil (and other Latin American countries), India, China, South Africa are becoming powerful and challenge the dominant position of the Triad members.
  • Asian dragons: Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea have had a spectacular development in the last thirty years.
  • Countries in reconstruction: former Soviet Bloc countries that, since the 1990s, are trying to adapt to a free-market economy.
  • Countries integrated within globalization: North America, most of South East Asia, parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Venezuela (plus, though not indicated as such: the Triad, developed countries associated to the Triad, BRICS and Asian Dragons).
  • Developing countries: countries, slowly evolving economically, in Africa, Central Asia, South America and the Middle East.
  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs): the poorest countries, most African countries, plus Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Butan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Haiti.
  • Fourth World: poor people in wealthy countries (everywhere).
  • Countries at war: Nepal, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, DR Congo, Côte d’Voire, Columbia, these are mostly very poor countries.
  • Blind spot: of no interest geopolitically or economically (few people).
  • Main oil resources: the world economy depends on this natural resource, mostly controlled by powerful multinational companies from the North. Oil fields indicated: North Sea, Russia, Middle East, North and West Africa, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, USA, Indonesia.
  • Major flows of investments, goods and information: major flows between the members of the Triad (thick arrows), less important flows between Japan, China and South East Asia (thinner arrows).
  • Global cities: Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, are the “motors” of globalization and are very important at all levels. They concentrate activity, people, transport hubs, decision-making organizations.
  • Main megalopolises (megalopolises are chains of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas): the Boston to Washington Corridor in the USA, and the Tokaido Corridor (in Japan), are shown. These are the most powerful, wealthy and populous regions of the world. They are linked to each other, forming a world-wide network of exchange of goods, etc.
  • Main integrating associations: enable regional cooperation and free trade among its members, and promote globalization whilst defending the interests of their members.
  • European Union: the EU has 28 members (most of Europe), it is an economic and political association.
  • NAFTA: North American Free Trade Agreement
  • MERCOSUR: Southern Common Market (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)
  • ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Explaining the map (what is the purpose of the map?):

  • The map attempts to describe both the process of globalization, i.e. flows of goods, etc., and possible consequences: increasing integration, and perhaps poverty and war. The major flows of investment, capital, goods, and information take place mainly between the Triad members and there are countries (associated, integrated, emerging, in reconstruction, developing) that depend to a greater or lesser extent on this Triad. There are poor regions that are more or less excluded from globalization (even perhaps victims of it, cf. countries at war). The oil reserves in Africa do not appear to benefit the countries in which they are situated…
  • The map, by showing global cities and megalopolises reminds us that they are essential in the globalization process.
  • The regional integrating associations both slow down globalization by defending regional interests and enable it because the member states of these associations promote free markets.
  • Note that the map does not show population flows (North-North, South-North, South-South) though they are an integral part (economic migration) and consequence of (refugees) the globalization process.

Questions the map poses:

  • To what extent does globalization achieve equitable work and wealth creation/distribution? The oligopoly has been described as a “world archipelago” where the metropolises of Japan, the USA and Europe, linked by the world’s main transport routes and means of telecommunication, act as if the rest of the world were unimportant (useful only for cheap labour, natural resources, land, and potential secondary markets). Since the 1990s, this model has become less relevant as the BRICS and other countries gain economic importance. The question still remains though: does globalization reinforce divisions between the regions of the world, favouring wealthy countries at the expense of poorer ones, or does it attenuated these divisions?
  • Is the map still valid in 2015? China is now the world’s second most powerful economy. There are wars and tensions and civil strife (over control of resources, of geopolitical influence,) in different places. Since 9/11 and the start of the Great Recession in 2007, the USA’s dominant position, economically and politically, is undermined and wealth disparities within countries and in the world have been accentuated.

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