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Globalisation faces both growth factors and impediments today — India could move in China’s wake

Gordon Hanson teaches urban policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Speaking to Srijana Mitra Das, he discusses factors shaping globalisation — and their impacts:

Q. What is the core of your research?

A. I study how local labour markets in cities and municipalities which house workers respond to changes in the global economic environment.

That includes globalisation — in the United States, over the last 30 years, increased competition from China has been a very big deal for places specialising in manufacturing. Now, the energy transition is another challenge, involving a shift from industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels and holding implications for workers across the economy.

Q. What does ‘hyper-globalisation’ mean?

A. Globalisation itself is a process that makes countries and markets more integrated, some-times through lowering trade barriers, like China did in the early 2000s, and sometimes through the movement of people or capital. ‘Hyper-globalisation’ is not a policy — it is an outcome related to a series of events which happened to occur at the same time and which rapidly increased the speed at which national markets were integrated. Part of that had to do with the opening-up of India and China over the 1990s and 2000s, the size of those two economies and the speed with which they joined inter-national trade.

Q. With current US-China dynamics, the worldwide energy crisis and post-pandemic disruptions, is globalisation waning now?

A. I don’t believe so — but we are certainly seeing the addition of forces which will impede its expansion. The measure of global trade in world GDP has been fairly constant since 2008 and the financial crisis. Now, these current impediments are occurring alongside expansion in emerging economies, including countries in South Asia, southeast Asia and central Asia in particular — growth in those places is a force which is pushing globalisation deeper while counter-weighing forces related to geopolitics are working in the other direction. I don’t expect to see globalisation advance at the same rate it did early in the century — but I also don’t expect a marked decrease.

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