Publications Monthly Keidanren 2017 April  A New Trend in Globalization

Vice Chair, Keidanren
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

There is growing pressure against globalization. In recent years, companies from developed countries have found new earning opportunities in emerging countries, and emerging countries have enjoyed accelerated economic development as a result. This has led to the formation of mutually beneficial relationships that have brought benefits to both sides. However, there is also opposition to globalization because of its negative aspects, including growing disparity in both developed and emerging countries.

Recently this backlash against globalization has started to influence government policy in many countries, leading to the creation of obstacles to international business activities and people flows. Globalization has been driven by the expansion of companies from developed countries into emerging countries in search of low-cost labor and growth opportunities. There are signs that this mainspring is now starting to wind down as emerging economies mature.

Yet despite these strengthening headwinds against traditional globalization, there is clear evidence of a new trend in cross-border economic activities. Strengthened by growth in their own economies, companies in China and other emerging countries are now starting to expand their business activities into other countries, including developed countries, and this trend is gaining momentum. To acquire the technology needed for this, they are actively acquiring leading companies in advanced fields, such as robotics and biotechnology, in developed countries. Companies in developed countries are fighting back by stepping up their R&D activities in an effort to maintain their technological advantage and create technologies that can be used to develop business in their own and other countries. That is why there is keen interest in developments in cutting-edge fields, such as AI and the IoT, as well as Germany's Industrie 4.0 industrial policy.

These technologies are also helping to find solutions to problems in areas that affect the entire world, including resources, the environment, healthcare, and security. Companies in both developed and emerging countries are striving to achieve global expansion based on the technologies that they have developed and the business that they have created, while harvesting the fruits of their efforts in various ways, including the acquisition of companies. This pattern is likely to emerge as a new driving force to take globalization forward against strengthening headwinds.