Quebec Studies

Quebec Confronts Globalization: A Model for the Future?

Quebec Studies (2000), 30, (1), 57–69.

Abstract

57 Quebec Confronts Globalization: A Model for the Future? By Earl H. Fry Brigham Young University There are roughly 190 naüon-states in the world today, with two dozen being formal federations dividing authority between their national governments and approximately 350 major subnational governments such as Canadian provinces, American, Australian, and Mexican states, German Länder, and Swiss cantons. In an era of globalization, Quebec is the most active player internationally among all of these subnational units. This article will examine the breath and efficacy of Quebec's international programs and offer an assessment of the "Quebec" model that may be useful to other subnational governments as they encounter rising globalization and rapid technological change. The Globalization Challenge for Federal Systems In the "global" economy which dates from the late 1980s, the scale of tech­ nological innovation and implementation has driven the limits of markets well beyond those of nation-states, and electronically integrated networks are gradu­ ally replacing traditional modes of organizations as the pivotal players in inter­ national economic transactions. Unprecedented technological change, combined with the emergence of 60,000 transnational corporations with 500,000 affiliates, has resulted in a world where national borders remain very important but are no longer the totally dominant unit of economic accounting.1 As Thomas Friedman asserts, globalization "is the overarching international system shaping the do­ mestic politics and foreign relations of virtually every country, and we need to understand it as such" (Friedman 7). In the economic arena, the international mobility of goods, services, cap­ ital, technology, and people stands at record levels, and the world is becoming far more integrated than ever before. World trade in goods and services is approaching 7 trillion dollars annually, and is growing at a rate almost three times faster than the aggregate growth in national economies. In addition, the growth in commercial services, international direct and portfolio investment, and international tourism is easily outpacing the expansion in merchandise trade. For example, trans-border merger and acquisition activity added up to a record 798 billion dollars in 1999, an increase of almost 50 percent from what had been the record levels of 1998. The 500,000 affiliates of transnational corpora­ tions also produce sales of 11 trillion dollars per year, far outpacing the total cross-border trade in goods and services (Micklethwait and Woodbridge xxi). In referring to "globalization," Dani Rodrik has suggested that depending "on who uses it, the term denotes an opportunity, an imperative, a source of anx­ iety, or at worst a curse" (Rodrik 1). Revolutionary advances in communications and transportation are increasingly negating the importance of distance, space, and national boundaries. The dominance of market systems around the world, when combined with extensive deregulation and privatization, has also eroded the role of national governments in protecting and enhancing the interests of their constituents. Richard Longworth refers to globalization as "a revolution that enables any entrepreneur to raise money anywhere in the world and, with that money, to use technology, communications, management, and labor located Québec Studies, Volume 30, Fall/Winter 2000

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Fry, Earl