The World Isn’t Deglobalizing. It’s Reglobalizing

The World Isn’t Deglobalizing. It’s Reglobalizing
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks on his phone while British Foreign Minister David Cameron, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken converse at the G-20 Foreign Ministers meeting, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 22, 2024 (DPA photo by Kira Hofmann via AP Images).

Ever since the twin shocks of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president in 2016, people have been wondering whether the world has entered a period of “deglobalization.” The idea that, after a period of deep economic integration in what is known as the liberal international order, geopolitical competition and nationalist impulses were fueling the return of a more internally bounded global system gained further traction after Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine and the Western sanctions that followed.

Others have pointed to the persistence of globalized supply chains and international trade to argue that deglobalization is a myth. Though geopolitical concerns over supply chains for strategic sectors may be driving reshoring and nearshoring—whereby countries seek to pressure companies to relocate manufacturing and assembly to their own territories or those of friendly states—the globalized distribution of economic production and international trade remain robust.

There is an element of truth to both arguments, but neither captures the full scale of what is currently taking place. That’s because, instead of deglobalization, it is more accurate to call the current shifts in the international order “reglobalization,” a process of deep transformation in contemporary world politics that consists of three trends: first, changes in the mechanisms of globalization; second, changes in the global order; and third, changes in the relation between globalization and the global order. 

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