By the late 1980s militant nationalism had subsided; today the foreign investor once feared as a dominant tyrant that threatened economic development, is often sought after as a source of needed capital investment. Nationalism comes and goes as conditions and attitudes change, and foreign companies welcomed today may be harassed tomorrow and vice versa.
Although militant nationalism has subsided nationalism feelings can be found can be found even in the most economically prosperous countries. When US negotiators pushed Japan to import more rice to help balance the trade deficit between the two countries, nationalism feelings rose to a new high. Deeply rooted Japanese notions of self sufficiency, self respect and concern for the welfare of Japanese farmers caused Japan to resist any change for several years. It was only after a shortfall in the Japanese rice harvests restrictions on rice imports were temporarily eased. Even then, all imported foreign rice had to be mixed with Japanese rice before it could be sold.
It is important for marketers not to confuse nationalism, whose animosity is directed generally towards all foreign countries with a widespread fear or animosity directed at a particular country. This was a mistake made by Toyota in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sales of Japanese cars were declining in the States and an advertising campaign was designed and delivered that assumed the problem was American nationalism. However, nationalism was clearly not the problem because sales of German cars were not experiencing the same kinds of declines. The properly defined problem was Americans fear of Japan. Indeed at the time Americans considered to economic threat from Japan greater than the military threat from the Soviet Union. So when Toyota spent millions on an advertising campaign showing threat from the Soviet Union. So when Toyota spent millions on an advertising campaign showing Toyotas being made by Americans in a plant in Kentucky it may well have exacerbated the fear that the Japanese were colonizing the United States.
In similar manner, currently China is vilifying Japan over recent changes in Japanese history books that downplay atrocities committed by the latter during World War II. Of course, other issues have strained this crucial relationship over the years, including the growing economic and political clout of each. Similarly Americans are beginning to sound much like US sentiments express about Japan in the late 1980s, Americans moms are even banning Chinese products from Christmas lists.
The World is not Merchandise, Who is killing France? The American strategy and No Thanks Uncle Sam have been best selling titles in France that epitomize animosity towards the United States in France. Although such attitudes my seem may odd in a country that devours US movies eats US fast foods , views US soap operas, and shops at US Wal-Mart stores, national animosity whatever the cause is critical part of the political environment. The United States is not immune to the same kinds of directed negativism either. The rift between France and the United States over the Iraq – US war led to hard feelings on both sides and an American backlash against French wine, French cheese, and even products Americans thought were French. French’s mustard felt to issue a press release stating that it is an American company founded by as American named “French”.
And, of course circa 2005 the French are not alone in directing ire at the United States and the products of its companies. Citizens and politicians in many countries are also unhappy about the war in Iraq. Numerous public opinion polls have shown recent worldwide decline in sentiment toward America. It is important to appreciate that no nation ate hover secure, will penetration by a foreign company into its market and economy if it perceives a social, cultural economic or political threat to its well being.
Finally, narrow trade disputes themselves can roil broader international markets. Three hot issues circa 2005 were the relaxation of quotas on textiles mandated by WTO, farm subsidies in developed countries, and the long simmering Air Bus Boeing battle over subsidies. Any of the three might boil over an affect other aspects of international trade, but at least at this writing cooler heads seem to be prevailing along with the WTO dispute resolution processes.