Is peak globalisation upon us?: Globalisation is much more than trade in goods

Economics Globalisation International trade Multiculturalism New Zealand

We examine the phenomenon of globalisation as it affects New Zealand. We look at its impact on New Zealand and ask whether it is a force which has had its day (peak globalisation) or is it continuing to morph and evolve.

We found that there was widespread concern that on-going de-globalisation was likely to reduce New Zealand’s trade opportunities, and that this would be significant for a small open economy like ours. However, a wider view showed that globalisation is by no means a finished project, since flows of cultural texts, ideas, and information – already strong for New Zealand throughout the 20th century – continue to accelerate and grow in volume.

Globalisation makes us more aware of our identity. Some characterise globalisation as a straightforwardly homogenising force. On the contrary this paper suggests globalisation has a localising effect that generates an automatic flip-side focused on who we are and what is different about us as New Zealanders, as we become more involved with the rest of the world.

Current trends in globalisation are easier to understand if placed in a broader historical framework. These include:

  • New Zealand’s size plus geographic isolation and settler-colonial history inform our current position within, and response to, intensified global flows
  • Though globalisation has often been rendered in public debate as unprecedented, inevitable, and a fundamental threat to New Zealand’s sovereignty, a broader historical perspective reveals the various ways in which New Zealand, once imagined as an agricultural outpost in an imperial world-system, has long been naturally involved in global information flows (both directions) and accompanying modes of governance
  • Nevertheless, falling transaction and communication costs have meant that some forms of global integration – including trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), and short-term migration – have reached unprecedented levels in recent decades.
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