The outbreak of Covid-19 has sent shock waves all across the world. Almost all countries are its victims now. Some are panicking, while others have shown great resilience to fight against the pandemic. At present, economies are at a grinding halt. Life too is dull. Movement of people is restricted to an unprecedented proportion. Other challenges, haunting the world, are not being discussed for a while. What Covid-19 is going to do with the existing international structures is a highly discussed topic today. Some scholars suggest that the pandemic will retard globalisation. Other opine that it will fuel hydra headed nationalism and xenophobic sentiments. Those discussing its economic impacts highlight global supply chains as its main victim.
Is Covid-19 really a powerful threat to the globalisation? Are global supply chains going to be hurt? The simple answer is No. Once corona crisis ends, we will see a new wave of globalisation with intense cooperation and coordination. It is true that few nations will pursue inward looking policies, but it does not mean that they will be in total seclusion.
Normally, it is assumed that globalisation is a three or four decades old phenomenon. But this account of globalisation is not true. The process has been in existence since the day humans became master species. It is a human tendency to cooperate with fellow humans for better survival and maximising strength.
Was the exploration of New World not globalisation? Were the trading activities of the Arab merchants not its manifestation? Although, the colonial expeditions were morally wrong, yet they contributed to its uprising. In history, it is observed, wars, conflicts, genocidal campaigns, and pandemics, all served the cause of globalisation directly and indirectly instead of dismantling it. International institutions and organisations, which are the strongest pillars of globalisation, as they provide a platform to people from across the world to interact and exchange ideas, were also developed following the international disasters.
At the end of the first Great War, the League of Nations was created to establish a sense of cooperation among war weary nations. At the conclusion of Second World War, the United Nations Organisation was formed. After the Great Depression of 1930s and once all its deleterious impacts were over, the International Monetary Fund along with two other institutions was established. Today, the world is facing Covid-19 that will certainly create the demand for the erection of new international edifice where states could come and sit together to handle such deadly pandemics easily in future. Seeing from this perspective, it is quite clear that adverse times have contributed to further growth of globalisation. Covid-19 will lead the world towards new forms of cooperation.
The world is a community of more than 200 nations that can be broadly categorised into consumers and producers. Some nations are producers while other consumers. They all are dependent and cannot afford isolation.
Apart from this, it is argued that the outbreak of Covid-19 will make people in different parts of the world more xenophobic and hyper-nationalist. People in the West, it is seen, are unhappy with the unregulated influx of immigrants from poverty-stricken and war-torn states. But can the west really afford not allowing foreigners to its land? Certainly Not. As per the recent reports, almost all OECD countries face demographic crisis. Some even experience negative growth rates. Germany and Japan are cases in point. Globalisation means four freedoms: freedom of goods, services, capital and people. Post Covid-19 era will see more influx of people from poor countries to the western capitals. The demand for workers will be high as people are dying of the pandemic, though in limited number. Immigration will not face major setback, contrary to what is discussed in major media outlets.
It is said that Covid-19 will greatly impact global supply chains in the long run. It is true that global economic output today is almost zero, as both supply and demand are at naught. But this won’t be the case in near future. Suppose for a while that there are only two countries in the world- Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, as we know, is an agrarian society. The country earns by exporting agricultural goods. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has an oil economy. The kingdom ensures its survival by exporting oil. Lets assume, these two countries have decided to close their borders. Afterward, how would Pakistan meet its oil demand and Saudi Arabia feed its population? The world is a community of more than 200 nations that can be broadly categorised into consumers and producers. Some nations are producers while other consumers. They all are dependent and cannot afford isolation.
For a while, we imagine that, in post covid-19 era, the concept of global supply chains sees its virtual end, but how quickly the nations will develop their own infrastructure and industrial capital to build all the components required for making a particular good. Some nations have acquired capabilities not to rely on others. However, not all countries are strong enough to move towards self-reliance, self-sufficiency and sustainability. Threats are being exaggerated to catch people’s attention. Is it possible to diminish or dismantle the existing setup just because of the outbreak of a pandemic? No.
Challenging or changing the status quo requires a long time. A few renowned authors have opined that the current pandemic will change the existing global world order once and for all. A world order with China as a hegemon will be established. But the question arises, what changing will alter the present world order? Richard Hass, the author of ‘World in Disarray’ explicitly writes that a world order ends when there is a huge power asymmetry and when balance of power is disturbed. Covid-19 is not so powerful that it negatively impacts America’s political, economic and military might and leads to resultant decline.
Globalisation is going to be with us for a long time. International financial institutions are already active. They are providing economic assistance to the affected countries so that much-needed steps can be taken timely. The outbreak of Covid-19 is a real threat and costing lives. But it does not mean that the consequences be exaggerated to create uncertainty and panic.