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Capability to deny access to chokepoints as structural power indicator

  • 27/09/2021
Capability to deny access to chokepoints as structural power indicator

The sea-bound transport of goods and raw materials in particular is essential for the highly decentralised production and trade chains of the 21st century. About 70 per cent of global trade values, even 80 per cent in terms of the volume of global exchange of goods, are transacted via sea routes. And the trend is upwards. Although maritime trade has been growing at a somewhat slower pace recently – the rate fell slightly below the historical average mark of 3% (1970 – 2017), steady growth in this area is still predicted. However, this forecast is in danger, which is not only due to the global pandemic 20/21, but above all to a higher risk of geopolitical conflicts. For maritime trade routes, it means very specifically the risk of disruption and consequently cutting off one or more participants from the goods they need or access to external markets. Given the relevance of maritime routes for the economies concerned, such a blockade, real or potential, can represent political leverage and thus a factor of influence or power. Conversely, the ability to exercise control over these geographical structures of global trade and thereby deny an opponent an option is a power potential. The focal points of these structures, as they are ideally suited for a blockade, are the geographical bottlenecks, so-called choke points.

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