As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many experts and leaders have begun to question the future of globalization. Some believe that we are not experiencing “deglobalization” but rather a “re-globalization,” due to the rapid changes in energy and technology. This was a topic of much discussion at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, where WEF founder Klaus Schwab posed the question of whether cooperation is still possible in an era of fragmentation.
Over the past decade, there has been a steady decline in the concept of “Davos Man,” the embodiment of global business and cosmopolitanism, due to a variety of factors including the 2008 financial crisis, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the erosion of democracy around the world, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These events were seen as indications that globalization had gone too far and would be reversing course.
However, the mood at this year’s meeting was slightly more optimistic. Despite concerns about conflict and economic struggles, the world seems to be doing better than global leaders had anticipated when they last met in May. The resistance of Ukraine against Russian invaders, the united front of the West, Europe’s ability to maintain stability during the winter, and the possibility of avoiding a recession are all positive developments.
Beyond these short-term developments, there is also a deeper shift towards a new form of globalization taking place. While the globalization of goods appears to have reached its peak, the globalization of services is on the rise, thanks to the revolution in telework brought about by the pandemic. Additionally, there is an acceleration in the revolution of energy, driven in part by the conflict in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz predict that the widespread adoption of renewables and hydrogen power will be as significant as the industrial revolution of the 19th century. At the same time, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are creating new opportunities while also raising concerns about job loss and the potential for rogue technology.
This “re-globalization” will differ greatly from previous iterations. In the past, globalization was primarily driven by corporate profits, but the new form will be centered around national security in all its dimensions. Western countries have portrayed the conflict in Ukraine as a defense of the liberal, rules-based order against aggression from Russia and, by extension, China. As a result, these countries are now focusing on “friend-shoring” and reevaluating their economic ties with China.
However, from the perspective of those outside the West, Europe, and America are just as guilty of disrupting the global order as Russia and China are, with devastating consequences for their own security and prosperity. The sanctions imposed on Russia by the West, for example, have been perceived as a decision to turn the war into an economic conflict, with catastrophic effects for billions of people.
The dollar-based financial system, once seen as a global public good, is now viewed as a tool for enforcing America’s ideological and strategic preferences. The sanctions on Russia, for instance, follow the same pattern as Western policies used in the “war on terror” and the fight against nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea. Policies such as these have become a global dragnet, relying on the politicization of previously neutral systems.
Other countries are now following suit, politicizing the global framework of rules and norms. The European Union, for example, is considering a carbon tariff on imports, and has already taken measures to prevent data on its citizens from being stored beyond its borders. The United States, meanwhile, has continued to impose sweeping bans on the sale of strategically important technologies to China. This not only leads to the balkan The future of globalization is uncertain, but one thing is clear: it will not be the same as it has been in the past. The world is at a crossroads, and the choices made in the coming years will determine whether we continue on the path of fragmentation and conflict, or whether we can find a way to cooperate and rebuild a more inclusive and equitable global order. The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos serves as a reminder that the future of globalization is in the hands of leaders and decision-makers from around the world, and it is up to them to work together and find common ground to ensure a more sustainable and peaceful future for all.