The World at a Crossroads
From In the 30 years since we launched the Fortune Global 500, our annual ranking of the world’s largest companies by revenue, two very clear themes have emerged.
The first is the sheer gravity-defying rise of China as a leader of global business. There were precisely zero Global 500 companies based in mainland China in 1990 when we began our survey. Today there are more giant for-profit enterprises there than anywhere else on earth.
The second—and equally dramatic—narrative is the steep rise of global trade in general, which has been just as inexorable, it seems, as China’s ascent. In the first running of the Global 500, world trade represented less than 39% of global GDP, according to the World Bank; in 2018 (the latest year available), such trade accounted for more than 59% of our planet’s economic output.
2020 Fortune Global 500 cover, Aug. 2020