Globalisation has been defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the integration of global economies through trade, technology and financial flows. It allows financial and investment markets to operate internationally but is also applied to a greater juxtaposing of culture across the world, giving rise to phrases such as “the global village” or “the global age.”
Different views are held as to whether globalisation is a good thing. Some argue that the spread of free trade is a development that will help beat poverty, yet opponents of globalisation argue that it is something that benefits rich multinational companies at the expense of poorer nations, and raises a number of other ethical issues.
The impact of globalised trade is a key ethical issue. Organisations such as the IMF and the World Trade Organisation are standard bearers for a globalised economy and argue that free trade encourages countries to focus on developing industries where they can be low cost producers, making use of what is described in economic terms as relative advantage. The end product should be the creation of wealth that trickles down and improves the lives of the poor.
Many opponents of global free trade ague that it increases inequality and leaves the poor worse off. Other more conservative opponents take a protectionist view to globalisation and are concerned that it promotes wider immigration and multiculturalism to which they are opposed.
Globalisation can bring intensified competition for the world’s depleting stocks of resources. Emerging economic powers such as China and India are now looking to locate mineral resources around the globe and chemical-induced pollution is also rising in these countries. Economic growth might be raising living standards for many in these countries but a global response to the environmental dangers is also required.
Changing patterns of disease are a further problem caused by globalisation. Easier mobility around the world and migration for economic reasons can raise the possibility of people spreading new and emerging diseases. A benefit of globalisation is that is can bring greater opportunity for people to travel in search of work and education, yet national governments have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from the dangers that easier global travel and trade can bring.
The spread of international terrorism can be seen as a by-product of globalisation. Only a few decades ago, travel outside of a small local area was difficult for most people, yet in a global age, people who wish to spread terror can travel around the world more easily. The Internet and better communication technologies allow terrorist ideologies to spread more quickly and the expertise on how to carry out terrorist attacks can be more quickly disseminated.