Nic Solecki, CBDA
Associate Research Analyst
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As globalization has slowed in recent years, geopolitical and geoeconomic risks have reemerged across global markets. Amid disrupted shipping lanes, upended supply chains, and economic sanctions, all markets — developed or emerging — are vulnerable to some degree. While these risks are nearly impossible to eliminate, they can be managed, and efforts to minimize exposures seem to be driving a trend of regionalization across markets. To help visualize this trend, this week’s chart highlights economies (green) that may benefit from increasing regionalization based on three core constraints.
First, direct geographic access to primary shipping lanes. The OECD estimates that around 90% of all traded goods travel by sea. This suggests that countries with both direct access to shipping lanes (dashed lines) and fewer choke point exposures (blue circles) have competitive advantages over those without access or those vulnerable to bottlenecks. Second, industrial capability. Countries with greater material inputs, labor pools, and facilities inherently have a comparative advantage over those without. Third, foreign exchange purchasing power. Relative to the U.S. dollar or the euro, countries utilizing weak alternative currencies have a comparative advantage in attracting investment and in production costs. This textbook dynamic heavily suggests that denominating costs in relatively weak currencies may be the strongest differentiator between otherwise equal markets.
While there are certainly many other dynamics and constraints at play including multilateral trade agreements and demographics, direct access to shipping lanes, industrial capability, and foreign exchange rates offer three core measures to assess and expand on.
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