Change in the international business environment occurs incrementally. Many of the powerful forces driving competition and market integration, both regionally and globally, have been visible for quite some time. Nevertheless, the convergence of these forces during the current period of flux in global politics sets the 1990s apart as a decade of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. Four prominent features define this setting for international business.
First, the global distribution of economic power is more evenly balanced than at any time in the past half-century. An era has ended during which the sheer size and dynamism of the U.S. economy provided an unmatched base for domestic industry as well as the clear-cut market of choice for foreign producers. The European Community now provides the core of a widening regional integrated market whose output is likely to exceed that of the United States by the end of the decade. The economies of East Asia are well on their way toward economic parity and are projected to remain the world's fastest growing region. Thus, despite its importance, the U.S. home market no longer is likely to provide the advantages and worldwide leverage of years past.
Second, global competition is intensifying on all fronts.