Nationalism (a.k.a. protectionism) is threatening our global economy! Or so the general media would have us believe.

Recent articles inThe New York Timesseem to support this conclusion:

• On July 30, the newspaper reported the collapse of negotiations, after seven years of talks, on world trade agreements. TheTimesquoted Peter Power, spokesman for the European Commission, as saying, “It is a massive blow to confidence in the global economy.”

• On Aug. 15,Timesop-ed columnist Paul Krugman said the war between Russia and Georgia, among other events, “raises some real questions about the future of globalization.” Krugman warns, “Today’s high degree of global economic interdependence, which can be sustained only if all major governments act sensibly, is more fragile than we imagine.”

Of course, these are just selected excerpts. But is the sky really falling?

Until our government or major companies decide to dramatically ramp up investment in the manufacturing sector here in the U.S.-and what’s the likelihood ofthathappening? Without some serious incentives, I’d say about as much chance as American workers getting excited about a $1.56-an-hour wage. (According toInternational Business Times, the average salary in 2007 for a worker in China was $250 a month.)-growth in global expansion is safe and sound.

This represents both opportunities and challenges for packaging departments because competition spurs innovation. On the plus side, this means more technologies and suppliers to choose from.

This also means more competition for your products, though. One way to prevail is to design packaging specific to the local market, wherever that is. Are you researching appropriate colors and making sure your translations are correct? Are you taking advantage of the 24-hour day by sharing development work with colleagues across various time zones? Speed to market matters now more than ever in our big, big world. F&BP