India controlled around 30% of world trade till late 17th century. At the start of the last millennium the Chinese were the pre-eminent international traders. Although a truly global trading system would not evolve until some 500 years later, Chinese silk was available in Europe.
At the start of the last century the British military, merchants and manufacturers dominated the seas and international commerce. At that time in reality the sun did not set on the British Empire.
At the start of the last decade, Japan’s economic successes had rendered the military competition between the United States and the Soviet Union obsolete. In late 1900s it was predicted a Pacific Trade wherein trans-pacific trade would surpass trans-Atlantic trade. Other Asian economies would follow the lead of Japan. No one could think that India could surpass United States to become the second largest wireless network in the world with a subscriber base of over 300 million.
Halfway through the decade natural disasters and wars have hampered commerce and human progress. The battle to balance economic growth and stewardship of the environment continues. The globalization of markets has certainly accelerated and new communication technologies including cell phones and the Internet. Will the information technology boom of the previous decade be followed by a demographics bust? Ten years out the debate about global warming should be settled – more data and better science will yield the answers.
International marketing will play a key role in providing positive answers to all the questions. We know that trade causes peace and prosperity by promoting creativity, mutual understanding and interdependence. Markets are growing rapidly in emerging economies in eastern Europe, the Common wealth of independent States, China, Indonesia, Korea, India, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina – in short, globally. These emerging economies hold the promise of huge markets in the future. In the more mature markets of the industrialized world, opportunity and challenge also abound as consumers’ tastes become more sophisticated and as increases in purchasing power provide consumers with new means of satisfying new demands.
Opportunities in today’s global markets are on a par with the global economies expansion that existed after World War II. Today, however, the competitive environment within which these opportunities exist is vastly different for that earlier period when United States multinational dominated world markets. Today, companies from almost all the world’s nations vie for global markets.
There is no better illustration of the changes that have occurred in the competition for global markets in the last quarter century.
GEL of US felt they are coming to our market but we’re not in theirs. So we’re on the defensive. Not long after, GEL acquired a Hungarian lighting company, and Thorn EMI in Britain and then moved into Asia via a joint venture with Hitachi. As recently as 1988, GE Lighting got less than 20 per cent of its sales from outside the United States, and in 2000 it was more than half.
The companies that succeed in the 21st century will be those capable of adapting to constant change and adjusting to new challenges. India will cross the 200 billion orders of exports by August 2008.
The economical, political and social changes that have occurred over the last decades have dramatically altered the landscape of global business. Consider the present and future impact of the following:
- The ever-present threat of global terrorism as represented by the September, 2001 attacks
- The emerging markets in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America, where more than 75 per cent of the growth in world trade over the next 20 years is expected to occur.
- The reunification of Hong Kong, Macau, and China which finally puts all of Asia under the control of Asians for the first time in over a century.
- The European Monetary Union and the successful switch from local country currencies to one monetary unit for Europe, the euro
- Moving away with speed from traditional distribution structures in Japan, Europe and many emerging markets.
- The growth of middle income households the world over and the continued strengthening and creation of regional market groups such as the European Union (EU), the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) the Central American Free Trade Area (CAFTA), ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), the Southern Cone Free Trade Area, and the Asian Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC).
- The successful completion of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the creation of the world Trade organization (WTO) the latter now including China and Taiwan.
- The restructuring, reorganizing and refocusing of companies in telecommunications, entertainment and biotechnology as well as in traditional smokestack industries around the world.
- The continuing integration of the Internet and cell phones into all aspects of companies operations and consumers’ lives.
These changes affect the practice of business worldwide, and it means that companies will have to constantly examine the way they do business and remain flexible enough to react rapidly to changing global trends to be competitive.