In what ways does globalisation affect regional integration in Africa?
Globalisation is the “coalescence of varied transnational processes and domestic structures, allowing the economy, politics, culture and ideology of one country to penetrate another.” (Mittleman 1994, 428) By its very nature it is an intrusive process, one that ignores the sovereignty of states in order to allow the features of one state to infuse into another. Its modus operandi accordingly, is the manipulation of interactions between states and their asymmetrical power relations operationalised through neo-liberal market integration approaches. This market integration can be a “totalising or homogenous force… [Or] in diverse ways accentuates regional differences.” (Mittleman 1994, 428) The effect of this process of market integration is regional cooperation and new regionalism “made possible by the collapse of the communist state and the decline of UD hegemony.” (Lee 2003, 28) Theorist such as James Mittleman and Ian Taylor advance the view, that globalisation creates the need for regional integration. The starting point for both authors is that globalisation and regional integration have a causal relationship whereby globalisation is one of the core explanatory variables for regionalism and regionalisation, and the structure they adopt. Furthermore, globalisation as a process influences and alters the nature and objectives of regional integration. Relying on these 2 theorists I will explore how the effects of globalisation affect regional integration and the objectives of its actors in Africa. Globalisation, Power Relations and Regionalisation in the African Context In understanding how globalisation creates interdependence amongst states we first focus our analysis on the state-level interactions of producers and purchasers of commodities. The process of globalisation is an economically driven process necessitated by the need to create markets and exchange goods and services amongst nation states. The need to trade goods and services amongst two or more states requires rules of interaction to be established amongst them. This instigates a bargaining process in which states may have to forgo some of their sovereignty in return for access to certain markets, goods or services in exchange for selling their own. The culmination of this collective bargaining process is the establishment of certain trade policies in which states “collaborate efforts between two or more countries with similar interests. This can include technical sector cooperation, policy harmonisation, joint promotion of production [of certain products] and a joint stand towards the rest of the world.” (Lee 2003, 22) The process of establishing relations between states is defined as regional cooperation. Regional cooperation is the first stage of two (the second being market integration) which together are defined as regionalisation/regional integration in the African context. Regional co-operation however is inherently based on state capabilities (economic, military, political, ideological and social) and the ability of states to bargain effectively in line with their national interests. There are therefore winners and losers within the bargaining system, and the relational power capabilities of a state, its ability to enforce its own ideologies or features onto another state, will allow it to maintain several comparative advantages and interests in accordance with its desires. Taylor advances that “the existing regional projects reflect the impulses of a neo-liberal world order [and] although the proponents of the transnational ideology seek to cast the world as having to adjust to a totalising tendency, globalisation is obviously asymmetrical” and takes advantages of such certain differences between states within a region internally and externally. (Taylor 2003, 314) Advancing these differences within regions polarises states within these regional blocs according...
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