The Future World Dominated by Africa, Asia and South America
Back in 2017, I was asked ‘does a world dominated by Africa, Asia, South America scare you?’. I found the question strange, but maybe I shouldn’t have. Turning the question around, I wonder ‘does a world dominated by America, Europe and China scare you?’
Looking at both options, neither looks especially good. And the issue isn’t actually the countries, it’s the underlying assumption that some country or set of countries has to dominate the world. I’d hope that in the future we have a more enlightened view and way.
In my answer, I wrote that I think a world dominated by Asia, South America and Africa will be a lot like the world today and more.
A lot of how we think about countries and geopolitics is shaped by the news we read which portrays the countries of the world as single-minded competitors out to get the most that they can. The reality is more confusing/complex and interdependent.
Using the USA as an example. We could argue that a majority of the government officials and business leaders in the USA want to retain a dominate position in the world, yet also don’t want the world dependent on them.
Most countries and companies want to do business globally and with the diversity of countries in each. But they also want leverage over the negotiations. Countries and stakeholders who are able to push against that will likely be able to negotiate better results for both countries.
Another way to look at the question is to consider how much the world has changed during the last 50 years due to China’s development and influence.
I would argue that the world has greatly benefited from the rise of China. Not only have the brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty but they now actively invest in development in emerging markets. That has been a mixed bag for everyone involved but it does seem reasonable to argue that over the longer term, someone having invested something will be better than nothing.
A world where countries in Africa, South America and Asia compete globally and push back on the dominate world powers of today (or tomorrow) benefits everyone in the long term.
In the short-term, it challenges legacy countries to adjust how they have operated before. That change creates an opportunity for nationalism as it is easy to blame a shifting economy on other countries rather than take responsibility for the lack of action by the domestic government itself. Offshoring itself doesn’t destroy jobs, governments failing to capture and reinvest the benefits of offshoring in job creation destroys jobs.
When the international market becomes more balanced (maybe not any more or less fair than today) with more countries competing equally, it becomes more difficult for any one country to have dominate leverage. I believe that is a solid good for the world in the long-term. It may not seem that way in the short-term.
The best example of what will happen in the next 100 years is what has happened in the last 100. And just thinking of what the world looked like in 1920 vs today, anything is possible. Things will be different.
This is a partial rewrite of a Quora answer I posted 15 July 2017. It’s part of my efforts to move all my spread content on the internet into one place.