地缘贸易博客This blog considers how ideas and events framed by geography and trade shape our world, while sharing observations and analysis on discovery, transport, industry and much more.






Sunday, 27 January 2013

Geography and Demography are Destiny

Geographical view of the Américas

Geography is the backdrop of human history. The position of a country on a map is the first element that truely defines it, so much more than its government is able to. Geographical distortions can be as revealing of the long-range intentions of governments, for example, the melting of the Arctic, allows a glimpse of the possible future shipping routes between Asia and Europe and the geo-trade options that this could bring about.



Demography is destiny



The US is in the midst of a new demographic, cultural and political moment. Interestingly the extension of the US border southwards in the early 19th Century to incorporate newly won land from México into the US is now facing a seismic demographic change in the 21st century - in coming decades hispanos from the wider Américas will become more than a quarter of the US electorate. 

Hispanos currently represent 17pc of the US population, and hispanic population growth is set to turn the US into a country where fewer than half the population will be non-Hispanic whites within 20 years. This shift will create a new demographic reality in the US. This point was heavily illustrated in the messages of Obama's recent presidential inauguration speech. A Cuban-American became the first hispano to recite the official inaugural poem. Rev Luis León delivered an inaugural benediction with phrases spoken in Spanish. And Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first hispanic on the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office to Vice President Joe Biden.

Geography and Economic Growth



The notion that Mexico offers only cheap labour no longer rings true in the 21st Century. México produces around 115,000 engineering students every year, almost three times as many as the US on an annual basis. Hence machine specialists are usually easier to find in Tijuana than in many big US cities. As are, accountants experienced in production economics and other highly skilled workers.



Today, in the 21st century, Tijuana is becoming to San Diego what Shenzhen is to Hong Kong. Travel between San Diego and Tijuana is around 20 minutes, with no passport required. Although a passport is needed to come back, but there are fast-track lanes for business people. Many employees commute across the border each day, good doctors are cheaper and easier to find in Tijuana, as are private schools. In some ways, the border feels more like the  borders between the members of the EU than a divide between two countries.



And it’s not just Tijuana. To the east, in Juárez, Dell computers are built by Foxconn, the company that manufactures more than 40pc of the world’s electronics (including Apple’s iPhone and iPad). To the south, in Querétaro, a factory builds the transmissions that General Motors installs in its Corvettes. The design of General Electric’s GEnx turbine jet engine and the production of interior elements of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner also happen in México. In fact, manufactured goods are the country’s chief export, with private investment in this sector among the highest in the world.



Once again geography is destiny too, the shorter and more nimble a supply chain is, the better. Hence México is benefiting from its proximity to the US to feed the demand for just-in-time manufacturing. And the demographics of producing the right mix of highly-skilled workers have combined with it to create growth and prosperity in the 21st Century. 






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