Global interdependence – definition and meaning

Global interdependence refers to worldwide mutual dependence between countries. In other words, mutual dependence at a worldwide level. One nation depends on another for something. That country also depends on another for either the same thing or something else. As more countries depend on other nations for things, especially key things like energy and food, global interdependence evolves.

Global interdependence is largely the result of international trade, i.e., the importing and exporting of products and services. In fact, countries today cannot survive for long without each others’ imports and exports.

Oil and natural gas have created global interdependence between the major producing nations and those that do not have enough.

According to

“Global interdependence means mutual dependence at an international level. Countries depend on each other for certain commodities.”

“The import and export of various goods and services greatly contribute to global interdependence.”

Global interdependence – a current reality

No country can be totally self-sufficient. In today’s global economy, a need exists for international trade.

Nations and their citizens would not voluntarily trade with other countries unless there were benefits from this exchange.

A consequence of this decision to import and export is that today we can produce more goods efficiently. We can also use resources more efficiently.

Put simply; international trade increases material standards of living across the world, i.e., it makes us richer.

Global interdependence - definition and illustration
Global interdependence evolved over the past one-hundred years and is here to stay. We all rely on one another.

As international trade evolves, countries that are more efficient in certain things begin to specialize. In other words, they focus on making specific goods or offering certain services.

Those specializing countries subsequently need to import. They need to import because some sectors have contracted as more resources went to making certain goods.

As more and more countries specialize, the need for imports also grows. Consequently, today no country can survive without trading with other nations.

Hence, global interdependence has become a fact of life for everybody.

The global economy and global interdependence

The global economy refers to all the economies of the world. Specifically, it refers to how countries’ economies have been developing and operating collectively as one giant system.

If you say “We live in a global economy,” what does it mean?

It means that we live in a world comprising many economies that depend on each other. They are intertwined and interdependent. In other words, they all operate like different parts of one unit. That one unit is the global economy.

The global economy has many advantages. By specializing and trading with other countries, nations become richer.

However, global interdependence also has some disadvantages. For example, what happens if your country depends on another for oil, and its leader decides to stop selling to you? What happens to your country if the other country suddenly doubles the price of oil?

Countries that depend on other nations are also vulnerable. Especially if they rely on other nations for strategic goods like fuel or food.

Video – global interdependence

In this TEDx Talks video, Ping Zhou says that international trade is good. It is something that we should embrace and not vilify. Zhou has been a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Geology at Eastern Michigan University since 2010.