The integration of economic, political, and cultural systems has been one of the major global trends at the end of the 20th century. Advances in information technology and transportation have dramatically expanded economic, political and cultural interaction among actors all over the place. This process, called globalization, is indeed not a new phenolmenon, but its scale and pace have considerably increased since the 1980s driven by the internet revolution and major progress in transportation and logistics, namely containerized cargo and roll-on-roll-off cargo ships. These developments have led to dramatically falling transport-tation and communication costs and brought the world's markets and cultures closer together than ever. Globalization is also characterized by institutional and political reforms in many countries, just to mention gradual trade liberalization and international coordination of policies. The reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade, bilateral trade agreements and--very much indeed--European integration and the fall of the iron curtain have been additional drivers of the massive growth in world trade.