In What Ways Does Globalization Affect Regional Integration in Africa? - Africa Essay Example

In what ways does globalisation affect regional integration in Africa? - In What Ways Does Globalization Affect Regional Integration in Africa? introduction?? Globalisation is the “coalescence of varied transnational processes and domestic structures, allowing the economy, politics, culture and ideology of one country to penetrate another. ” (Mittleman 1994, 428) By its very nature it is an intrusive process, one that ignores the sovereignty of states in order to allow the features of one state to infuse into another.

Its modus operandi accordingly, is the manipulation of interactions between states and their asymmetrical power relations operationalised through neo-liberal market integration approaches. This market integration can be a “totalising or homogenous force… [Or] in diverse ways accentuates regional differences. ” (Mittleman 1994, 428) The effect of this process of market integration is regional cooperation and new regionalism “made possible by the collapse of the communist state and the decline of UD hegemony.

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” (Lee 2003, 28) Theorist such as James Mittleman and Ian Taylor advance the view, that globalisation creates the need for regional integration. The starting point for both authors is that globalisation and regional integration have a causal relationship whereby globalisation is one of the core explanatory variables for regionalism and regionalisation, and the structure they adopt. Furthermore, globalisation as a process influences and alters the nature and objectives of regional integration.

Relying on these 2 theorists I will explore how the effects of globalisation affect regional integration and the objectives of its actors in Africa. Globalisation, Power Relations and Regionalisation in the African Context In understanding how globalisation creates interdependence amongst states we first focus our analysis on the state-level interactions of producers and purchasers of commodities. The process of globalisation is an economically driven process necessitated by the need to create markets and exchange goods and services amongst nation states.

The need to trade goods and services amongst two or more states requires rules of interaction to be established amongst them. This instigates a bargaining process in which states may have to forgo some of their sovereignty in return for access to certain markets, goods or services in exchange for selling their own. The culmination of this collective bargaining process is the establishment of certain trade policies in which states “collaborate efforts between two or more countries with similar

interests. This can include technical sector cooperation, policy harmonisation, joint promotion of production [of certain products] and a joint stand towards the rest of the world. ” (Lee 2003, 22) The process of establishing relations between states is defined as regional cooperation. Regional cooperation is the first stage of two (the second being market integration) which together are defined as regionalisation/regional integration in the African context.

Regional co-operation however is inherently based on state capabilities (economic, military, political, ideological and social) and the ability of states to bargain effectively in line with their national interests. There are therefore winners and losers within the bargaining system, and the relational power capabilities of a state, its ability to enforce its own ideologies or features onto another state, will allow it to maintain several comparative advantages and interests in accordance with its desires.

Taylor advances that “the existing regional projects reflect the impulses of a neo-liberal world order [and] although the proponents of the transnational ideology seek to cast the world as having to adjust to a totalising tendency, globalisation is obviously asymmetrical” and takes advantages of such certain differences between states within a region internally and externally.

(Taylor 2003, 314) Advancing these differences within regions polarises states within these regional blocs according to their power relations, and externally creates conflict amongst regional blocs as they push each other to compete for comparative advantages and regional interests. Since, power relations between states and regions are never symmetric, and as states steer each other towards interdependence what is important about such cooperation is how these power relations create core and periphery actors in the global system, and “to what extent the non-core [the Third World] can benefit from globalisation.

” (Taylor 2003, 311) With Africa, several historical periods (colonialism, post-colonialism (1970s -1980s) and the Cold War) have privileged dominant actors on the continent (at a region, state and individual non-state actor level). The most dominant relationship is that of the West/previously colonial powers whose influence and economic control over the continent still remains for the sole purpose of “providing capital and consumer goods to exchange for the Third World primary products,” curtailing the industrialisation process on the continent, and relegating

Africa to the periphery in production. (Mittleman 1994, 429). Through the relations here, we see here that the formations of regions according is not a process independent of globalisation, neo-liberal logic and the power dynamics which accelerated new regionalism in the 1990s – whose “ literature locates the new wave of regionalisation process within the ongoing transformation of the global political economy.

” (Taylor 2003, 314) The effect of new regionalism in Africa based on market integration was operationalised through SDI’s and SAP’s, that advanced economic reforms in which: “growth [was] privileged over development in the neo-liberal trickledown prescriptions”, there was a “push for further privatisation and the rolling back of state involvement casting everything within a profit seeking framework which allows very little space for social and ecological implications.

” Additionally “it progressively alienated labour from the production process and collapses the social framework within which gains could be socials shared” increasing inequality and poverty (Taylor 2003, 318, 325) In this framework, regional elites stand to gain from the ownership of factors of production, and polarising effects of the neo-liberal economic reforms. However, whilst they receive a small portion of the profits in relation to the Western regions that precipitate and fund these reforms, they nonetheless eat humble pie and accept it at the expense of the majority who continue to live under the poverty line.

The following results cast a dull picture of globalisation’s effects on regionalisation, however it must be noted that it is not globalisation in itself that is bad, globalisation is driven by an economic process, however the but rather the political and ideological underpinnings of it which result in the following consequences. The process of increased interdependence would not be such a terrible phenomenon if it was predicated on a developmental agenda in which interests lie beyond the profit motive.

Taylor for example, although with little hope, attempts to point to regionalism from below as a system that could advance such alternate objectives within these regional frameworks. I myself would advance the notion of developmental integration in which one attempts to address the problems created by the market integration approach through economic and social development. Transnationalisation of production and the division of labour Mittleman also advances the view that globalisation’s most felt effects on regional integration schemes is through

its international division of labour, which he defines as “a set of relationships associated with an exchange of goods produces by individual units namely nation states, [and] the specialisation of a country in a particular trade or product. ” (Mittleman 1994, 428) In the 1930’s a sub-regional, non-utilitarian origin for specialisation existed and the exchange of goods and services across and with states was established.

The transfer of goods was such that the developed world produced capital and consumer goods for the third world and maintained hegemony over industrialisation processes whilst the non-core, third world, was their markets and only produced primary products for export to industrial countries. This relationship has remained dominant in relation to Africa and bi-lateral ties with colonial markets have remained prevalent in the bulk of Africa’s trade patterns today. Region to region trade is not dominant over state to region trade, especially with the European Union and SADC member states.

However in the 1960’s the core decided to de-industrialise and convert to service industries and “newly industrialised countries (NICs) sought to transform their structures of production. ” (Mittleman 1994, 429) Additionally production became capital intensive instead of labour intensive, leading to higher value addition in production and increased profits and a new international division of labour in which modes of coordination of capital-intensive industries within different states, within a region intensified.

Consequently, this globalisation of divisions of labour led to transnationalisation of production which could allow for several regions to come together and create comparative advantages around their resource endowments and become regional producers of certain goods and services. This phenomenon in relation to regionalisation in Africa has kept Africa at the tail end of regionalisation projects.

With low middle – to highly skilled labourers, political instability that doesn’t encourage FDI into the region and opening up markets which means states lose capabilities to be active participants of industrialisation processes (which require state intervention and support at the onset) means that in this area, whilst Africa attempts to integrate across regional blocs, the pull of economic globalisation and the changes in the international division of labour impede its efforts to harness regional markets in R&D, capital intensive production and technological innovation like other

regional blocs such as the East Asian tigers. This further alienates the majority of societies in Africa which through structural incompatibilities with the demands of globalisation, suffered huge structural unemployment and in which, the state is not supposed to intervene in the markets according to neo-liberal logic, if it intends to benefit from regional gains.

A critical problem with African regions is also that most of them have not developed industrial comparative advantages, so added to wanting to open up their markets to create regional hubs of industrial activity, they are not able to benefit from regionalisation along these lines. So their efforts to remain competitive as a region in a global political economy where other regions have developed such capabilities is further denied. Paradoxically, “globalisation shields domestic society from and integrates it into the global division of labour.

” (Mittleman 1994, 434) The consequences of these internal and external forces of globalisation on sub-national actors and civil society is a dissent for the state, and “the losers in the global restructuring seek to define their role in the emerging order. New social movements are themselves a global phenomenon, a worldwide response to the deleterious effects of economic globalisation. ” (Mittleman 1994, 434) The effect of globalisation in relation to the new and old international divisions of labour, thus serves as a Pandoras’ box for state actors to navigate.

Globalisation is a process that is inextricably intertwined with regionalisation in Africa, and in some cases it has sought to advance it, whilst in other cases (especially in relation regionalisation and industrialisation) it has impeded it. In the work of these two theorists, one thing is clear for the regionalisation efforts of African states. The quest for neo-liberal market approaches, only serves to further weaken their economies, political relations and social relations rather than strengthen them.

A stronger emphasis needs to be placed on alternate advances towards regionalism, such a developmental integration in order for the regions to succeed in capitalising on the benefits of globalisation for the majority of the population. For the Southern African region, regional efforts to add value to mining products and agricultural products with Africa obtaining 60% of the arable land have been identified, by SADC and these efforts need to be strongly interrogated by SADC if they hope to be a developmental state.

Education, and guided transfer tax systems need to be prioritised for the establishment of regions’ comparative advantages, and the coordinated protection of new markets needs to be enforced in order to allow for greater industrialisation to occur on the continent. The adoption of neo-liberal logic within regional policies need to be revisited and models of regional cooperation need to be established along statist objectives, which also need to be clearly set out and implemented within states.

There needs to be a greater realisation that whilst globalisation is a “fact of life” and Thabo Mbeki put it, it needs to be redefined to benefit the lives of the people it impacts. Bibliography Lee, Margret. The Political Economy of regionalism in Southern Africa. Boulder : Lynne Rienner, 2003. Mittleman, James. “The Globalisation Challenge: surviving at the margins. ” Third World Quarterly 15, no. 3 (1994): 427 – 441. Taylor, Ian. “Globalisation and regionalisation in Africa. ” Review of International Political Economy , 2003: 310-330.

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