Jan. 4 – Much has been made of comparisons between China and India, much of it driven by the fact that the two nations are (occasionally reluctant) neighbors, their size, population and simultaneous development and progression. For two nations so large, sometimes at polar opposites, yet at the same time offering potentially comparable market sizes, is unprecedented in history. Yet here we are, 25 years on from the beginnings of China’s first, tentative steps towards reform, and India now looms on the horizon as a giant of Asia.
This phenomenon is not now purely restricted to these two nations either. A resurgent Russia, newly incorporated into the WTO will also change global trade dynamics in ways that have not even begun to be fully discussed. While media has concentrated on Russia’s political issues, the fact that another large consumer market and manufacturing base has emerged (albeit one smaller than China or India) has largely been ignored. Such ignorance betrays any understanding of global trade dynamics or the forces that will drive this century.
But back to India. As mentioned, much commentary concentrates on comparisons with China, and my firmand publications China Briefing, India Briefing and 2point6billion.com (the latter named after the combined populations of China and India) have been at the forefront of this. However, these comparisons are not purely restricted to the reasons I have given. A major point here is that the mainstream acceptance by global consumers, and especially the United States and Europe of China as both a source of product and a market to sell to has emboldened foreign firms in ways never seen before. Over the past 20 years, China has become mainstream, from investment to tourism. Travel anywhere in the West, and it has become commonplace to know someone who has visited the country. The dynamic has changed – when just two decades ago China was exotic, now it hogs the front pages of our major international news channels. This exposure, nay acceptance of China has provided the West with a new found confidence in exploring, investing in far off destinations, and educated us to accept perhaps the more exotic as the norm.
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