Regional Visions of Globalisation

As the world economy undergoes major transformations in recent years on the back of the pandemic and increasing geopolitical divisions, the visions of economic development and globalization are changing as well. A unipolar/“tunnel vision” of globalization from the 1990s is giving way to a rising number of projects and initiatives that have regional integration blocs as their base.

One such recent project is the Global Gateway initiative launched by the EU at the end of 2021, another that was launched under the auspices of the G7 group is the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative. Both projects are meant to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in advancing greater connectivity and infrastructure development throughout the global economy. Globalization as a concept is becoming a more competitive field for various regions and countries that are starting to advance their very own visions of how globalization is to evolve.

The B3W project launched by the G7 countries in mid-2021 is aimed at providing connectivity and infrastructure development to middle- and low-income countries. It seeks to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars for these purposes via the mobilization of the resources of the US development institutions such as “the Development Finance Corporation, USAID, EXIM, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and complementary bodies such as the Transaction Advisory Fund”.

The investments undertaken from the US development institutions will seek to act as a catalyst for private sector investment in key priority areas for the B3W that include climate, digital technology, gender equity and equality, as well as health and health security. According to the White House statement, “the B3W initiative will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa to the Indo-Pacific. Different G7 partners will have different geographic orientations, but the sum of the initiative will cover low- and middle-income countries across the world”.

Importantly, the new Global Gateway initiative launched by the EU aims to be in synch with the B3W project, implying potentially the formation of a common trans-Atlantic platform across the developed economies. As for the EU’s Global Gateway initiative it seeks to mobilise up to €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027 to support the global recovery, “taking into account … partners’ needs and EU’s own interests”.

According to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen: “The European model is about investing in both hard and soft infrastructure, in sustainable investments in digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education and research, as well as in an enabling environment guaranteeing a level playing field. We will support smart investments in quality infrastructure, respecting the highest social and environmental standards, in line with the EU’s democratic values and international norms and standards. The Global Gateway Strategy is a template for how Europe can build more resilient connections with the world.”

Across the Global South only China has a globalization vision of similar ambition, namely the Belt and Road Initiative, with infrastructure projects launched across several continents. Nonetheless, the BRI is arguably not fully on par in scope with the recent initiatives advanced by the Western economies and needs a more comprehensive platform that would make use of the synergy from the cooperation across the whole array of the development institutions of the developing world.

What could be the response from Russia and the developing world? The experience of the past several decades suggests that what is needed is an own platform for globalization that enables countries such as Russia to align national interests with the global agenda. It is also important that such a platform is not majority controlled by any single one region or country. In this respect, the co-integration of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s BRI may be a useful tool of rendering China’s and Russia’s infrastructure projects more harmonized, but a common globalization framework requires a broader platform. Such a platform may be represented by the BRICS+ framework that brings together the main regional integration blocs from the developing world and their development institutions.

More generally, what is of concern in the “new globalization race” is the competitive if not opposing nature of the emerging globalization projects. There should be the possibility for the global economy to benefit from the inter-operability of the various connectivity undertakings, particularly in the vast expanses of Eurasia. A divergence in integration/development/globalization models in various regions of the world economy should not be a barrier for the convergence in economic interests and the synergy across integration projects globally. That is why there may be a need for such globalization/integration blueprints to contain an element of inter-operability/connectivity with other such projects – this may render regional or national models of globalization more open and inclusive, rather than reserved for the select few in the re-enactment of yet another “core-periphery” paradigm. This interoperability across regional and global projects as a built-in, structural mechanism in the new international architecture may in turn redound to greater security and stability in international relations. Inter pares amicitia!

From our partner RIAC

Yaroslav Lissovolik
Yaroslav Lissovolik
Founder, BRICS+ Analytics contact: yl[at]brics-plus-analytics.org