There is widespread and often emotionally charged discussion these days about the effects that the intensifying globalization is having on national economies. It is worth resting opinions on unprejudiced quantitative analyses rather than unbridled debate. These require the amorphous concept of globalization to be circumscribed and for the advance of 'internationalization' to be measured in the main dimensions of economic globalization. The article examines the main indices of globalization - interpreted as economic openness - with their content, limitations and susceptibility to expression in numerical form. It goes on to provide comparative analysis, based on numerical indices, for the internationalization of Hungary, the EU member-states and some selected developing countries over the last three decades. The first part, published here, follows conceptual clarification with a consideration of foreign trade in goods and services. The second, in the next issue, will consider portfolio and working capital flows, the extent of foreign ownership control, and migration of the tax base.