The debate around neoliberal globalisation and its impacts on economically peripheral countries has been waged by partisan forces to the right and left since the early 1990s. Much of this debate focuses at the scale of the nation-state, or of the whole globe, and, while often sophisticated in an ideological sense, is scant in terms of consideration of the ‘grounded’ outcomes of the processes and discourses of globalisation. This paper argues that an appreciation of the contingent economic geography and political economy of any given local and regional transformation is essential for understanding the outcomes of economic globalisation. In order to illustrate this, the paper analyses two regional non-traditional agricultural export (NTAX) complexes in the highly globalised Chilean economy. By focusing on ‘hotspots’ or ‘globalised spaces’ at the regional and local scales we are able to cut through the rhetoric associated with generalised arguments for and against economic globalisation and illustrate that both the roots and impacts of the insertion into global commodity complexes are highly geographically contingent. Our analysis concludes that NTAX development in Chile over the past 25 years has radically restructured local and regional economies, has concentrated wealth ‘extra-regionally’, has exacerbated social differentiation, and threatens environmental sustainability. We argue that policy that seeks to address these trends requires more grounded consideration of the complex and uneven geography of economic globalisation that does not privilege analysis at any one scale and that seeks to elucidate the links between the ‘global’ and the ‘local’.