The benefits of globalization – and why you shouldn’t take it for granted

Globalization has affected the world on so many different levels that you might not have even noticed it – yet pretty much everything moves around the world because of it: goods, services, data, ideas, people, technologies...

Picture this for an average Saturday: eating a bacon and egg muffin at a local McDonald’s, listening to Spotify on an iPhone designed in California while ordering yoga wear from Canada on a laptop produced in China. The world at your table, and you wouldn’t even think twice.

Getting those yoga pants delivered in 24 hours? No worries! For many, that kind of delivery isn’t so much a marvel of modern logistics, but an expectation. In the age of oneclick-purchases and same-day dispatch, it’s too easy to take these everyday comforts for granted.

But let’s not forget that building this kind of global interconnectedness has been an effort decades in the making. Let’s take a minute to look over what we have, and pay thanks to the miracle that is globalization…

Exotic fruits

Did you know that the U.S. would run out of avocados in three weeks if it closed the border with Mexico? You would certainly notice the effects of globalization then – and what happens when it stops working.

As in many other parts of the world, avocados have exploded in popularity in the Unites States over the last few decades. Last year the U.S. alone consumed over 1.08 billion kilograms (2.4 billion lbs) of avocados, a per-capita consumption increase of nearly 400% since 2001.

Or how about lychees? These squishy golf ball-sized fruits are a tasty example of globalization. Because lychees can only be grown in warm tropical climates, demand relies on imports from countries with year-round sunny conditions, such as those found in Madagascar, which produces around 15,500 thousand tons of the fruit annually. 

Global chains

Large chain stores may normalize any neighborhood with their dime-a-dozen design and content, but they’re usually there when you need them.

No matter where you are in the world, if you’re desperate for a coffee or in need of a Wi-Fi connection to share that next see-it-to-believe-it Instagram post, you can just about always count on finding one of the well-known coffee chains around the corner.

Take Starbucks, for example, which currently has over 31,250 stores worldwide in 78 countries and territories, across six continents. This world-conquering coffee chain has only recently expanded out of the United States, however. From its opening in 1971, it took a quarter-century for the first Starbucks outside of the U.S., in Tokyo. London followed next in 1998, with China welcoming its first store the following year. Australia welcomed Starbucks in the same year it hosted the Sydney Olympics, and Russia and South Africa saw its first Starbucks stores open in 2007 and 2016, respectively.

Trade and shipping, past and present

With barely three taps on a smartphone, you can order anything from wireless headphones, a new case for your 4G tablet, and even the week’s groceries – and have it all on your doorstep before the end of the week.

But delivery services haven’t always been so impressive.

In the mid-1700s, for instance, a letter could easily have taken up to two weeks to travel the measly 109-mile distance from New York to Philadelphia. But remember that these were the days of messenger bags stuffed with letters and parcels – you’d have been hard pressed if you wanted to even send furniture in those days. The big moves of the 2010s and beyond are far more impressive, and a lot more complicated.

With constant expansion of population and infrastructure, we are living in a restless world. Building the future requires expertise and the right equipment – very big equipment.

Sometimes you might need to transport wind turbine blades or waste-heat boilers and tunnel-boring machines, like the ones DHL’s Global Forwarding Industrial Projects division have carefully managed in the past. But it’s not every day that you need to send a 75-meter wind turbine blade. Smaller parcels more commonly pass between countries and continents – and with DHL Express, almost anything can be delivered the very next day, anywhere in the world. 

Automotive industry

Your car gets you from A to B, but how did the car get to you? 
If you buy a car today, there’s a high chance that you’ll be sharing your ride to work with components from several continents. Car manufacture is no longer limited to just one plant, in one country. The Ford Fiesta, for example, is from an American automotive marque but is in fact assembled in Mexico, with a Brazilian engine and a Mexican transmission.

At the other end of the spectrum, British luxury manufacturer Bentley also relies on global trade routes for the production of its cars. The front and rear fenders of its prestige saloons are made in eastern Europe and then sent to Bentley’s U.K. production line in Crewe, before being finalized in Germany – yes, Bentley, is actually a subsidiary of VW, a German company; how’s that for globalization? – and then sent back to Crewe to be fitted to the car!

Where in the world are we?

Even though today’s world is interconnected like never before, it is actually less globalized than many people would think. Most business still takes place within, rather than across, national borders. Digging deep into the data, the DHL Global Connectedness Index uncovers the real story behind globalization, and how exactly the world does business… — Liam Heitmann-Rice & Meribel Sinikalda

Published: December 2019


Images: iStock