Globalisation and economic interdependence alters diplomacy and the skills needed for diplomats.
In the past, diplomats negotiated with the political ideology and military alliance of their government in mind. Now, economic and business benefits as well as public calls for transparency guide the negotiations.
Before globalisation, the most important features of diplomats were their families and social status—combined with military experience. Today, it requires specialised education in business and public relations.
To conduct successful diplomacy in this globalised political and economic environment one needs to adjust to the new game.
With the increasing economic power of multinational organisations since the late 20th century, industrialised countries are utilising these international economic giants to achieve their national goals.
As international relations scholar Robert Gilpin argues, governments have realised that they can use multinationals to protect their economies and maintain their share of global economy.
The author does not expound how chief executives of corporations are given diplomatic role of not only negotiating their own company’s interest, but also encouraged to keep in mind the home countries’ economic interests.
As the government starts sending businessmen as diplomats to summits, they begin to transform diplomatic meetings into business negotiations.
As a result, traditional diplomatic tools, such as bilateral meetings and diplomatic etiquette disappear. Business captains turn into diplomats.
Currently, the task of diplomacy by foreign ministries is to search not for the balance of power, but for the balance of interest. The top priority today is to refresh traditional methods of diplomacy in search of compromise solutions—for the all-or-nothing mentality no longer works.
A partial and balanced approach is an answer to the new geopolitical and economic realities.
Trade has traditionally been a concern of diplomacy. Trade interest and trade policies are generally part of the central preoccupation of most States. Ideally, trade and foreign policies should support each other as do defence and foreign policies.
Foreign affairs ministries in international relations depend on trade policy more than defence has tended to pull in divergent directions from foreign policy.
As a result, an additional task for diplomacy is dealing with external problems arising from the consequences of differing lines of internal policy.
An additional task for diplomacy is divergence between trade and foreign policy can sometimes arise from the practice of having separate diplomatic and trade missions, through reflecting the tendency to treat the political and foreign policy may also diverge in international relations because of demands made by established trade interest within States. Trade interest may of course be acquired due to long- standing commercial links, entrepreneurial exploitation of overseas markets, a successful domestic lobbying and other reasons.
This is the case of Malawi and Britain, although the latter benefits more through non-payment of some taxes due to double taxation avoidance treaty which the two countries signed before 1964.
It is also a role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in international relations to explain and reconcile divergent interests to appropriate external actors or to bring the trade policy and interests in line with foreign policy. Aligning trade and foreign policy can be difficult if trade interest, but many countries have used both trade policy and foreign policy to influence change in other countries.
This has been a key tool by many Western countries, mostly when they want to bring regime change through their diplomatic power politics.
Many economies have collapsed, resulting in revolutions and coup de tat. International financial institutions have also been used as a tool in diplomatic power politics at international arena. n