Predictions that the coronavirus pandemic would kill globalization began to emerge within weeks of the economic shutdowns and supply chain disruptions it unleashed. Suddenly, in the worst of times, the integration that had propelled global economic growth for decades looked like the source of added hardship. And now, more than two years later, with Russia’s war in Ukraine complicating the economic and political pictures even more, something of a consensus is taking shape that globalization is experiencing its death throes.
Rumors of globalization’s death, however, are likely premature. Instead, what we’re seeing is a recalibration of global integration—a rethinking of trade relationships through a different lens. And that lens has been shaped by the experiences of the past few years, which served to shine a searing spotlight on the perils of putting the reduction of production costs above every other consideration when it comes to globalized trade.
Globalization has always had sharp critics, and its shortfalls—including economic exploitation, environmental degradation, unequal growth and many others—have been well studied for years. But the acute crisis that started with the pandemic acted like a magnifying glass. Suddenly, globalization’s shortcomings looked like a matter of life and death.