Global Business Organization
With improvements in transportation and communication, international business grew rapidly after the beginning of the 20th century. International business includes all commercial transactions (private sales, investments, logistics, and transportation) that take place between two or more regions, countries and nations beyond their political boundaries. Such international diversification is tied with firm performance and innovation, positively in the case of the former and often negatively in the case of the latter. Usually, private companies undertake such transactions for profit. These business transactions involve economic resources such as capital, natural and human resources used for international production of physical goods and services such as finance, banking, insurance, construction and other productive activities.
International business arrangements have led to the formation of multinational enterprises (MNE), companies that have a worldwide approach to markets and production or one with operations in more than one country. A MNE may also be called a multinational corporation (MNC) or transnational company (TNC). Well known MNCs include fast food companies such as McDonald’s and Yum Brands, vehicle manufacturers such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota, consumer electronics companies like Samsung, LG and Sony, and energy companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell and BP. Most of the largest corporations operate in multiple national markets.
Businesses generally argue that survival in the new global marketplace requires companies to source goods, services, labor and materials overseas to continuously upgrade their products and technology in order to survive increased competition.
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP). Industrialization, advanced transportation, multinational corporations, off-shoring and outsourcing all have a major impact on world trade. The growth of international trade is a fundamental component of globalization.
An absolute trade advantage exists when countries can produce a commodity with less costs per unit produced than could its trading partner. By the same reasoning, it should import commodities in which it has an absolute disadvantage. While there are possible gains from trade with absolute advantage, comparative advantage – that is, the ability to offer goods and services at a lower marginal and opportunity cost – extends the range of possible mutually beneficial exchanges. In a globalized business environment, companies argue that the comparative advantages offered by international trade have become essential to remaining competitive.
Trade Agreements, Economic Blocks and Special Trade Zones
Establishment of free trade areas has become an essential feature of modern governments to handle preferential trading arrangements with foreign and multinational entities.
A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a geographical region that has economic and other laws that are more free-market-oriented than a country’s typical or national laws. “Nationwide” laws may be suspended inside these special zones. The category ‘SEZ’ covers many areas, including Free Trade Zones (FTZ), Export Processing Zones (EPZ), Free Zones (FZ), Industrial parks or Industrial Estates (IE), Free Ports, Urban Enterprise Zones and others. Usually the goal of a structure is to increase foreign direct investment by foreign investors, typically an international business or a multinational corporation (MNC). These are designated areas in which companies are taxed very lightly or not at all in order to encourage economic activity. Free ports have historically been endowed with favorable customs regulations, e.g., the free port of Trieste. Very often free ports constitute a part of free economic zones.
A FTZ is an area within which goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities. Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the country in which the zone is located do they become subject to the prevailing customs duties. Free trade zones are organized around major seaports, international airports, and national frontiers – areas with many geographic advantages for trade. It is a region where a group of countries has agreed to reduce or eliminate trade barriers.
A free trade area is a trade bloc whose member countries have signed a free-trade agreement, which eliminates tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on most (if not all) goods and services traded between them. If people are also free to move between the countries, in addition to a free-trade area, it would also be considered an open border. The European Union, for example, a confederation of 27 member states, provides both a free trade area and an open border.
Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) are industrial parks that house manufacturing operations in Jordan and Egypt. They are a special free trade zones established in collaboration with neighboring Israel to take advantage of the free trade agreements between the United States and Israel. Under the trade agreements with Jordan as laid down by the United States, goods produced in QIZ notified areas can directly access US markets without tariff or quota restrictions, subject to certain conditions. To qualify, goods produced in these zones must contain a small portion of Israeli input. In addition, a minimum 35% value to the goods must be added to the finished product. The brainchild of Jordanian businessman Omar Salah, the first QIZ was authorized by the United States Congress in 1997.
The Asia-Pacific has been described as “the most integrated trading region on the planet” because its intra-regional trade accounts probably for as much as 50-60% of the region’s total imports and exports. It has also extra-regional trade: consumer goods exports such as televisions, radios, bicycles, and textiles into the United States, Europe, and Japan fueled the economic expansion.
The ASEAN Free Trade Area is a trade bloc agreement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations supporting local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. The AFTA agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore. When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.
A tax haven is a state, country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all, which are used by businesses to reduce their tax liabilities. Individuals and/or corporate entities can find it attractive to establish subsidiaries or move themselves to areas with reduced taxation levels. This creates a situation of tax competition among governments.
Different jurisdictions tend to be havens for different types of taxes and for different categories of people and companies. States that are sovereign or self-governing under international law have theoretically unlimited powers to enact tax laws affecting their territories, unless limited by previous international treaties. The central feature of a tax haven is that its laws and other measures can be used to avoid the tax laws or regulations of other jurisdictions.
The reality is that while many governments try to attack the credibility of competitive or foreign tax havens, in an attempt to protect their own domestic tax interests, many of these governments facilitate their own tax havens, such as Delaware in the USA and a number of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, such as the Cayman Islands.
Many businesses which do not require a specific geographical location or extensive labor are set up in tax havens, to minimize tax exposure. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the number of reinsurance companies which have migrated to Bermuda over the years. Other examples include internet based services and group finance companies.
Economic globalization is the increasing economic interdependence of national economies across the world through a rapid increase in cross-border movement of goods, service, technology and capital. Whereas the globalization of business is centered around the diminution of international trade regulations as well as tariffs, taxes, and other impediments that suppresses global trade, economic globalization is the process of increasing economic integration between countries, leading to the emergence of a global marketplace or a single world market.
Depending on the paradigm, economic globalization can be viewed as either a positive or a negative phenomenon. Economic globalization comprises the globalization of production, markets, competition, technology, and corporations and industries.
Current globalization trends can be largely accounted for by developed economies integrating with less developed economies by means of foreign direct investment, the reduction of trade barriers as well as other economic reforms and, in many cases, immigration.
In 1944, 44 nations attended the Bretton Woods Conference with a purpose of stabilizing world currencies and establishing credit for international trade in the post World War II era. While the international economic order envisioned by the conference gave way to the neo-liberal economic order prevalent today, the conference established many of the organizations essential to advancement towards a close-knit global economy and global financial system, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Trade Organization.
As an example, Chinese economic reform began to open China to globalization in the 1980s. Scholars find that China has attained a degree of openness that is unprecedented among large and populous nations, with competition from foreign goods in almost every sector of the economy. Foreign investment helped to greatly increase product quality and knowledge and standards, especially in heavy industry. China’s experience supports the assertion that globalization greatly increases wealth for poor countries. As of 2005–2007, the Port of Shanghai holds the title as the World’s busiest port.
As another example, economic liberalization in India and ongoing economic reforms began in 1991. As of 2009, about 300 million people – equivalent to the entire population of the United States – have escaped extreme poverty. In India, business process outsourcing has been described as the “primary engine of the country’s development over the next few decades, contributing broadly to GDP growth, employment growth, and poverty alleviation”.
Global Financial System
By the early 21st century, a worldwide framework of legal agreements, institutions, and both formal and informal economic actors came together to facilitate international flows of financial capital for purposes of investment and trade financing. This global financial system emerged during the first modern wave of economic globalization, marked by the establishment of central banks, multilateral treaties, and intergovernmental organizations aimed at improving the transparency, regulation, and effectiveness of international markets.
The world economy became increasingly financially integrated throughout the 20th century as nations liberalized capital accounts and deregulated financial sectors. With greater exposure to volatile capital flows, a series of financial crises in Europe, Asia, and Latin America had contagious effects on other countries. By the early 21st century, financial institutions had become increasingly large with a more sophisticated and interconnected range of investment activities. Thus, when the United States experienced a financial crisis early in that century, it quickly propagated among other nations. It became known as the global financial crisis and is recognized as the catalyst for the worldwide Great Recession.