What have been the main political drivers of globalization in the last 20 years?

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Drivers of globalization are both economic and political, with economic motives often leading to political solutions. As multinational corporations want to expand into global markets and take advantage of lower wages to outsource production, they influence politicians to open up trade and reduce barriers to globalization.

The aftermath of World War II was an especially important driver of globalization. Both Taiwan and Japan were reconstructed and closely linked to the west in terms of trade, which was encouraged partly in response to the growing political tensions of the Cold War and desire to ally them firmly to the West.

Many multilateral organizations were formed after World War II in order to ensure that countries had mechanisms for peaceful dispute resolution in order to avoid future wars. Trade and other mechanisms of globalization were seen as promoting peace. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which evolved into the World Trade Organization was one such important organization. Perhaps the most important global organization was the United Nations (UN), which describes its mission as follows:

The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish.

In recent decades, nations increasingly have seen peaceful trade as a path towards global prosperity and security. The entry of China into the WTO and efforts by the west to trade with China in order to decouple China from Russia in geopolitics have been especially significant.

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Globalization is the shrinking and removal of economic boundaries between countries.  Free Trade is one example, where the countries in a free trade agreement agree not to charge tariffs (taxes) on imports from the other country.  So cattle grown in America could be sold at the same price as cattle grown in South korea, for example, or cars made in Mexico could be sold with no extra taxes to compete with cars made in the United States.

The effect of this is that the prices for manufactured goods tend to go down in those countries, but that jobs tend to move from the more industrially advanced nation to the less developed one.  Labor costs are cheaper in Mexico so it makes more sense as a business to move the factory there, which costs America jobs, but lowers the prices of vehicles.

The main political driver is business influence over politicians and elections.  Businesses, especially corporations, donate money to candidates who are pro-free trade, and thus influence the passage of NAFTA and the recent agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Costa Rica.

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