The Prospects of Globalization in an Era Impacted by COVID-19
What is the perspective of globalization in an era impacted by COVID-19? In recent months, we have seen the closing of borders, the accentuation of national preferences, demands for relocation of production but also an increase in digitalized exchanges in the scientific, economic, cultural and political world. The globalized governance of the organizations of the United Nations system or major international players such as the European Community, the United States and parts of Asia has been exposed to situations that are difficult to manage by a US foreign policy based on the political model of conflict.
There will certainly be a different model of globalization after the COVID-19 crisis of 2020. But our agriculture will continue to need foreign workers; our supermarkets and consumers will continue to demand products from all over the world, even though the promotion of local agricultural production has been boosted by a section of the population that criticizes globalization and its excesses. Local tourism has been promoted not only in the countries of the North but also in those of the South, which have been hard hit by the cessation of tourist activities. The countries of the South, like those of Africa, have begun to intensify intercontinental trade in their products, encouraged by cooperation treaties such as the African Continental Free Trade Area, created in 2019; a treaty signed by 54 of the 55 states of the African Union. These exchanges will lead to a redefinition of ties with countries in the North, but especially those in Europe, which seems to be positioning itself as an important socio-economic ally of the African continent thanks to its geographical proximity.
The globalization of the last decades is certainly experiencing a crisis, caused by the difficulties of coordination and unilateral decision-making practices in the face of the health crisis. But this crisis is also an opportunity to redefine international cooperation and our way of life. Changes and transformations are underway, not only at the level of states, but also in companies and among social actors who must redefine parts of their daily lives. This is a period when the absence of new rules to guide the actions of individuals, companies and communities is creating anxiety and stress; when a new poverty is appearing especially among temporary workers, people working in the private sector, hard hit by the health crisis (the hotel and cultural sector) or what is known as the informal sector.
Nevertheless, it will be necessary to look to the future and reorganize socio-economic and cultural globalization through better collaborations. This crisis is giving rise to new socio-economic projects, often based on digital technology; new business start-ups due to the demands of the health sector; new creative activities on the part of researchers but also of the cultural sector; and an intensified exchange through internet meetings that transcend borders and continents.
To meet the challenges of the future, what rules are needed? Which institutions are capable of responding to the demands of global governance actors? There are certainly pessimistic trajectories (competition, conflict) but also optimistic ones (solidarity and redefinition of globalization). The problems of globalization can be explained by interconnected markets and often national rules that require global solutions with strong institutions of global cooperation. The possible change in the presidency of the United States could be one of the most important factors in the redefinition of globalization in the near future as the conflict model, defended by the outgoing administration, could be abandoned.
The labor market is changing and the training of people in sectors such as the digital one will be an important task to be carried out in the coming months. But we also need a rewriting of the economic sector so that the rules of globalization benefit workers and the environment, which must be protected. COVID-19 has increased inequalities within countries but also between countries around the world. Digitally based economies, such as South Korea’s, have been more resilient. This crisis shows the need for cooperation and assistance between emerging and developed economies.
The key word is probably the need for solidarity in the face of a global crisis such as we have not seen for decades. Innovative solutions can be promoted through pluralistic and global cooperation where participants learn from each other and are open to ideas that reflect not only their personal interests but a diversity that will lead to new prosperity.