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Politics

Protectionism just doesn't work anymore

Trying to make globalization go away will only lead to a nation's decline

| Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

Tokyo -- Globalization is so deeply rooted around the world that it will surmount the rising protectionist, inward-looking trade policies now being touted by the next U.S. president

Businesses are already making wise moves.

In the Mexican city of Santa Catarina, close to the U.S. border, construction work on a new factory for a U.S. air conditioner company was getting underway in mid-December.

But Carrier would quickly become Donald Trump's first post-election Twitter target; he used the planned factory as an example of how American companies were adding jobs south of the border by subtracting them from the U.S.

Carrier has since partially altered its plans, though construction work at the site continues.

According to a representative of the operator of the industrial park where the plant is going up, ownership of the land will be transferred to Carrier later this month and the plant will begin operating in late March.

Carrier in November attended a jobs fair hosted by the city in its search for 200 potential workers, sources said.

Although Carrier declined to comment on the matter, there are reports that it is still moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico, but not necessarily from the Indiana factory that had found itself trending on Trump's Twitter account.

The company is expected to obtain subsidies from Indiana to keep that plant open.

We should not let this episode -- or how fast information can race across the globe on internet platforms like Twitter -- distract us from the real issue at hand: Globalization has taken hold and means so much more than the cross-border trade of goods.  

In suburban Bangkok, online payment service provider Omise has a small office that serves as its "global headquarters."

The venture actually develops its technology globally, over the internet.

Its 80 employees in 14 countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, deliver reports and consult with company CEO Jun Hasegawa.

In the two years since launching, 3,000 client companies have signed up for its services.

"Without locking ourselves in one country," Hasegawa said, "we want to build a new economic zone. We want to make our service available in 120 countries this year."

Indeed, with the internet, doing business across borders is easier than ever, and the real engine of growth is the borderless exchange of ideas -- not the exchange of goods.

The 21st century has seen to this, and the nation that turns inward will only decline.

Look at Myanmar's history. The country that used to be known as Burma had been affluent through the mid-20th century. Yangon was an international destination that bustled with foreigners.

Then came the 1960s, a socialist administration, then a military government. Along the way, the economic system became a closed one.

Our world is indeed becoming increasingly globalized. Reactionary forces have surfaced, and our ability to get around them is being tested.

(Nikkei)

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