Changing outlook of globalisation due to Covid-19

28 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Globalisation is actually both an economic and a cultural process in which capitalists promote liberalisation.  With millions of Covid-19 cases worldwide, which is increasing in Europe and North America, outnumbering Asia, the travel ban and lockdown measures has jeopardised the global economy. In this article, the re-organisation of globalisation is portrayed with the reference of protectionism in trade, territorial trap and nationalism, hegemonic war, growing regionalisation which is contributing to the new organisation of globalisation.

The territorial trap:

How globalisation is not really functioning in the pandemic situation, rather the nation-state system is the one which is dominating international relations is described by “the territorial trap by John Agnew. The territorial trap can be explained in the present Covid-19 situation while predicting the context of globalisation in this pandemic situation.

The very first argument is a state with a fixed sovereign territory which may give rise to the stereotypical nationalist view and geographical contest over resources. As states blame China for the “Wuhan” virus.

The second argument refers to whether all states will merge into interstate competitions but due to pandemic and different capabilities of different nations the collaborative action is hampered against Covid-19.

The third argument refers, the state is the reservoir of society so the state is governing the international travel and migration within their territorial geography. For example, the passengers of the diamond cruise ship were left at sea to die rather than allowed reallocation in Japan because they hold different national identities and it is not under the responsibility of territorial infection control.

Covid-19 and reallocation of global trade:

From December 2019, with Covid-19 global travel management including the Chinese tourism industry is suffering significant loss because of the ban on global travel as it holds one-third of the world's population, those countries who are dependent on it are suffering more. The shortage of respiratory machines and medications to fight Covid-19 exposed the vulnerability of the world health system. As the USA is highly dependent on imported medicines, they decided to cut off the supply chain which was dependent on external supply and brought overseas business back home and the EU has adopted procurement policies at the state level. Due to the cut from the global supply chain firms are trying to relocate business at home but it is under question because concentrating resources at home can result in more risk in case of hurricane, flood or other natural disasters. Globalisation is going under a change but it is more like the reorganization of globalisation.  In the post-pandemic world owners of firms have to think about risk while taking into consideration profit maximisation.

The destiny of Globalisation:

The ultimate destination of globalisation after this pandemic is yet under process. The territorial trap has reduced the inter-state connectivity and those countries who were already in debt like the countries of the African Continent are suffering more. Every country is trying to regenerate its production system rather than being dependent on the global supply chain. Now, most of the countries are trying to combine the motive of profit maximisation with social welfare.

The world is going into a process of changing globalisation as we know it. Although artificial intelligence, Skype meeting, internet finance are giving globalisation a new dimension of hope. As factories are getting shut down, global travel banned, local movement limited, many blame globalisation for the rapid spread of the virus.

The hegemonic trade war between USA and China:

The core of human civilisation in the capitalist world is competition. A developed country as the USA is not willing to accept competition from developing ones. Although Biden has shared his desire that the USA should collaborate with China on matters of Climate Change., non-proliferation and fight against Coronavirus. The USA has previously withdrawn from WTO, but now the new president has resumed the USA's position by rejoining the Paris Agreement, reversed Muslim bans, re-engaged in WTO, introduced an immigration bill.

With the pandemic, multilateralism has expanded even more. Now the USA has to share its influence on world order with others according to the innovative strategies of other emerging powers. Stephen Walt has shared his pessimistic vision by saying previous pandemics did not end great power rivalry, neither flourished globalisation and so Covid-19 would not either. China is calling for global solidarity and mutual interest to fight Covid-19.


States are now concentrating on regional security and co-operation rather than globalisation. A stereotypical nationalist movement is inevitable if the social-economic disparity caused by globalisation is not reduced.

Globalisation is facing new dynamics as the state is interfering in business for more resilience of the production chain of personal safety products and medical equipment. Japan is shifting its production unit from China. Many countries are trying to be de-globalised but this process is costly because not every country has enough resources or mechanisms to go on its own. Many multinational companies are adhering to China because they don't have the capability of production at home or in other countries even in the context of the diversified production system,

The post-pandemic world doesn't indicate a world without globalisation but it surely indicates a more inward way of the self-sufficient approach taken by sovereign nations.

 A wave of 'protectionism' is hitting the world regarding vaccines and other cooperation. The ultimate destination of globalisation can be predicted based on how long this pandemic lasts but a growing sense of nationalism and protectionism is unavoidable and the outlook of globalisation will be different after this pandemic.


Debi Karmakar, student, Department of

International Relations, University of Dhaka