Overall, the United States continues to be the most powerful country of the G19 in 2020. However, the US remains on a relative power-decline. Its power score decreased in the years 2016 to 2020 from 17.65 to 17.19 but compared to the loss of power (-1.31) from 2011 to 2015, the downward curve has flattened. China continues to grow and tighten the gap to the US in our rankings. Its power score increases from 12.56 to 13.32. When compared to the previous analysis period the incline has slowed down significantly. Still, the gap between China and the US is narrowing slowly but steadily - China will have overtaken the US in the accumulated power score by 2035.
Compared to the other countries monitored, China is the biggest winner of the 2016-2020 period with a PSR growth of 0.76. India comes in second with a growth of 0.22. The United States and the United Kingdom rank at the bottom of the G19, with a PSR loss of -0.46 and -0.30 respectively. In general, the share of power held by the G19 states has declined. In 2016 the G19 countries still accounted for 73.04% of global power, in 2020, however, it dropped to 72.65%. This decline in power of 0.39 percentage points is significantly greater than that of the previous period (0.09 percentage points). This could indicate that either the global power balance is approaching a new leveling of power or that power growth is mainly taking place in emerging states outside the G19.
Based on its power score from 2016 to 2020, India has gained the largest percentage (+6.62%), further increasing the power shares in the Asian region, followed by China, with an increase of 6,04%. Saudi Arabia lost the largest percentage share of power (-10,57%) during the observed period.While its absolute country specific development (CC 12,63) is positive, the values are below the average for the G19 states. Interestingly, this loss is mainly due to decreases in military spending and total reserves, both categories that have been of significant importance to the traditional hard power of Saudi Arabia so far.
With a rate of Country Change (CC) of 20.85, India presents the third-highest country change behind Italy (30.15) and Mexico (29.56). Surprisingly, Brazil (-2.43) and Indonesia (-2.55), generally considered emerging countries, show the greatest decrease of their Country Change rates. Both countries’ losses are mainly due to decreases in the hard power sectors. For Brazil the decline of total reserves, GDP and MILEX had a significant impact, whilst in Indonesia companies, exports of goods and services and total reserves led to the slump.
In previous versions of the Bonn Power Shift Monitor, both Saudi Arabia and South Korea were among the winners of power shares, however, the percentage of their relative global power shares fell in the 2015-2017 phase (BPSM Update 2019). Nevertheless, in the years between 2016 and 2020 their absolute country specific development (CC) remained positive (South Korea 7.59, Saudi Arabia (12.63). In contrast to the relative Power Shift Model, the rate of country change examines the development of the country figures without comparing them to the global total. This model reveals whether a country has experienced a positive or negative trend over the years.
Taking a closer look at their power scores, South Korea has been able to slightly recover from 2016 to 2020 and is among the top ten again, whereas Saudi Arabia keeps its downward trend.
Argentina and South Africa remain the bottom performers in the BPSM. The power share of both countries has dropped slightly since the 2019 BPSM update, making them the weakest (both with a Power Score of 0.46). Both states have been unable to pave their way up the ranking and seem to be stagnating with a slightly negative trend. South Africa shows a positive development in terms of Country Change (CC +5.01), while Argentina is among the states with a negative trend (CC -0.21). Neither one of these states hosts any Fortune 500 enterprises, which underscores a micro-structural power lack.
In contrast to static power rankings, the analysis of power shifts allows to predict the current and future the trend of power (re)distribution. In this context, power shifts are a dynamic field of research that explores the constellation of states among themselves. Asymmetries and thus relative advantages or disadvantages in the international interplay of powers can thus be investigated. On average, the distance between the power values of the G19 countries has decreased. A broad midfield can be identified, including all but the two leaders, the US and China, and the two laggards, South Africa and Argentina. While the gap between the midfield states and China has widened until 2020, there is evidence of a convergence of power among these midfield states. This is particularly due to losses of traditional powers such as the United Kingdom, Japan or France as opposed to rising levels of secondary powers such as South Korea or India. Therefore, the gap between the old leaders and new risers is reduced. The previous trend continues: an increasing adjustment of asymmetries and thus a more balanced distribution of power in the middle field can be observed among the G19.
Within the G19, three major geographic power centers can be detected: First, the North American center under the leadership of the United States; second, Europe as a composite power center of the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy; and third, an Asian center with China as its main regional power and the growing powers Indonesia and India. Most noticeable among the Asian G19 countries is that India’s power growth accelerated. Contrary to this, China’s growth rate decelerated since 2016. Out of the European power center all countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy) are among the top ten powers. A general increase in European power can be noted. The past years have been an especially good period for Germany. Berlin managed to increase its power score from 3.97 to 4.03 and shows an increase in market share for four of seven indicators.
In South America, both Brazil and Argentina are stagnating and even featured a negative prefix in the last years of observation. As a result, Argentina now ranks last among the states monitored. While Brazil’s Power Score has dropped significantly, the country remains in 14th place.
This BPSM update features three new power indicators: Geographical Chokepoints, Total Reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Starting with the chokepoint indicator: the US consolidates its leading position via this indicator since it controls the most chokepoints around the globe - 23 - while China holds 10. Europe has increased its share of power through this new indicator. The United Kingdom, France, and Italy as maritime (naval) powers, each control at least as many or more chokepoints as China. Argentina, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa come in last, with control over one chokepoint each. The chokepoint indicator was constant during 2016 to 2020; this could change if control capacities change. Chokepoint control capabilities are geographically anchored, therefor as seldomly borders shift, this indicator is likely to remain rather constant.
The next new indicator refers to the total reserves of a country. Total reserves comprise holdings of monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserves of IMF members held by the IMF, and holdings of foreign exchange under the control of monetary authorities. This indicator is a measure for a state’s stability and contributes to its hard power. An upward trend can be observed in the total reserves of countries worldwide. While all European G19 countries show increasing figures in this indicator, it is the Asian countries that have increased their reserves the most in absolute terms. China holds by far the highest total reserves compared to the other countries (CS ~22%), followed by Japan (CS ~9%) with the US only coming in third (CS ~4%).During the observation period, Beijing experienced the largest loss in power shares in this category, as the other countries significantly increased their shares of reserves. The US in particular has also substantially increased its share of reserves. The worst performer is Saudi Arabia, which has both the highest absolute decline in its reserves and the second highest compared to the other observed countries.
For the first time, we have examined the World Heritages category in this 2022-version of the BPSM. As these sites contain cultural and natural heritage throughout the world considered to be of exceptional value to humanity, they serve as a measure of a nation's soft power. The number of World Heritage Sites in a country is not only an indicator of the country's attractiveness as a place to live for foreigners and for tourism, but also of its influence at the level of world cultural policy. The following trends can be identified for the category of World Heritages: China and Germany each gained five new World Heritage Sites by 2020. Italy and France also saw growth during this period, gaining three new UNESCO acclaimed World Heritage Sites each. The total number of World Heritage Sites has increased between 2016 and 2020 from 1052 to 1154. The top three countries are China, Italy – with 55 Heritage Sites respectively – and France, with 46. The bottom three are South Africa (10), Indonesia (9) and Saudi Arabia (5). Generally, a convergence of World Heritage Sites among the G19 states can be seen in Asia and Europe, followed by North and South America.
Regarding the more well-established indicators significant shifts can be identified. The world’s top universities are monitored by the QS World University Ranking. Leading universities are central hubs of scientific knowledge production and a country’s academic outreach on a global level. Depending on the research, universities contribute to the hard, soft, and structural power of their home countries in various ways. In the case of universities, it is the English-speaking countries that are among the biggest losers; the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom each lost two universities from the global ranking. At the same time, they continue to host the majority of the top universities in the world, with a total of 90 universities among them. Italy and Japan each increased the number of their top universities by two. Nonetheless, it can be seen that the global distribution of the top universities has not changed greatly. Even if slight changes are discernible, the English-speaking and European countries continue to lead the list of universities. The US still has significantly more top universities than any other country among the G19, with a total of 46. In the Asian region, only India was able to add one university, bringing the total to 17. Indonesia’s and Turkey’s underperformance in leading science are emphasized by them presenting not one globally renowned university.
The world’s largest companies, as ranked by revenue in the Global Fortune 500, shape the economic structures around the globe. These companies represent engines driving globalization, innovation, production, and communication. Looking at the shares of the G19 countries among the world's 500 most valuable companies, the developments of China and the US are particularly striking. Between 2016 and 2020, China increased the number of its companies in the Global Fortune 500 from 103 to 124. Within the US the number of its Global Fortune 500 companies decreased from 134 to 121 marking the largest absolute loss. Both South Africa and Argentina remain at the bottom without a single company among the Global Fortune 500.
Exports of goods and services record the entirety of all tangible and intangible commodities delivered across a state’s border. This indicator illustrates the integration of a state’s economy into global markets as well as its competitiveness. A general growth of exports of goods and services can be observed worldwide. In Southeast Asia in particular, exports have grown strongly in recent years. A direct comparison between the competitors China and the US shows that China was able to significantly improve its exports (CS up to 12%), while the US had to record minor losses (CS down 9%). Asia is the leading region among the G19 concerning exports by now, followed closely by Europe.
The GDP - the value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given year provided in a standard measure by purchasing power parity (PPP) - rates of the G19 countries have generally increased since 2016, with China, the US and India leading in this area. China, Indonesia, and Australia managed to achieve the highest relative GDP increase, booking the biggest relative shift in this sector. While the country share of almost all states decreased due to a general rise in productivity around the globe only China, Indonesia and India were able to resist this development. Accordingly, the GDP seems to be increasing particularly rapid in the Asian region with China being the outstanding growth engine. In sum, the G19 member states managed to increase their GDP from $84 trillion in 2016 to $96 trillion in 2020. With this, these countries slightly increased their relative economic weight in a global view, generating roughly 72% of the World’s GDP. The rising GDPs at purchasing power parity express improvements in the living standards of the rated states as all of them exhibiting positive growth rates.
While taking a closer look at the military spendings around the world an approximate correspondence to the Power Score of the observed nations can be noticed. The US and China lead the world in terms of absolute military expenses, with the US accounting for ~40% of World’s total military expenditures and China for ~12%, whilst the least powerful countries like South Africa (0.18%) and Argentina (0.16%) rank at the bottom. Surprisingly, Russia still undercuts these states and comes in last with the largest decrease in military expenditure and with 3.5% of the World’s total expenditure. Looking at the Internal Change Rate Turkey, Indonesia and Germany show the largest growth compared to their military expenditures in 2016 while Russia, Saudi Arabia and Argentina record the steepest decline. In view of the war in Ukraine, some states such as Germany have already announced a significant increase in the defence budget, which will be reflected in future versions of the BPSM.
By 2020, a further decline in regional power can be observed in Europe and North America, a continuation of power growth in Asia and a seeming stagnation in South America, as well as a slightly positive development in the two countries South Africa and Australia, which are subsumed under "Other".
The rise of Asia is thus continuing, with an increasing power gap to the traditional power centers. Since 2005, Asia’s weight has steadily increased, while the weight of North America and Europe has continuously decreased. As a result, Asia has overtaken North America as the strongest region among the G19.
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