Anti-globalization is "bad news for the U.S. auto industry"

July 8, 2014

"It looks as if U.S. auto manufacturers have finally gone global," Marina v.N. Whitman writes in "Globalization is, finally, working in Michigan's best interest," a June 27 op-ed in the Detroit Free Press. "In the first quarter of this year, General Motors sold significantly more cars in China than it did in North America."

This is part of a broader trend toward an increase in the flow of goods, services and finance across international borders, which Whitman notes has increased 50 percent since 1990 and is projected to continue to rise. However, Whitman also points out that anti-globalization has been an increasingly popular position since 2008: governments have pressured banks to lend domestically, covert protectionism has proliferated, and trade liberalization talks have stalled or collapsed around the world. "It is too soon to tell whether anti-globalization sentiments are largely cyclical," Whitman writes, "or whether they are structural and therefore longer lasting."

All these trends could hamper the auto industry's entry into international markets and harm the Michigan economy, Whitman argues. "Let's hope that, as economic recovery gains strength, barriers to the flow of goods, services, capital and people across national boundaries will recede," she concludes.

Marina v.N. Whitman is a professor of public policy at the Ford School. She also holds an appointment at the Ross School of Business Administration.