Globalisation: you’re standing in it

Exports took off 150 years ago when steamships, railways and refrigeration took sheep meat, wheat, minerals and butter to the other side of the world. The telegraph, radio, aeroplanes and container shipping were all once innovative new technologies. They opened borders and stimulated international trade.

Then the internet arrived. Optimists thought it would boost trade. The earlier export technologies were all about moving kilograms of things which could rot, break or sink below the waves on their overseas trip. It costs money to move atoms across the world. The internet could move the electrons making up digital goods for next to nothing and bypass tariff barriers.

Internet pioneers didn’t expect that moving business online would lead to consolidation. The commercial world has always leaned towards the winner taking all, overnight this happened on a global scale with less room for national champions. Now just one company can dominate a market around the world. Think Google with search, Uber with car trips or Netflix with entertainment.

Read the full story at iStart or download the magazine pages as a PDF.