Globalization, which emerged as a result of developments since the 1980s, is defined as the increase in interdependencies between states and societies, expresses rapid change & transformation process. In this process, a crisis that erupted locally soon turned out to be a global challenge, a pandemic crossing all boundaries. In this globalized world, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only health, but also many walks of life endangering societies and economies.
This article will focus on the effects of COVID-19 on globalization. Firstly, the phenomenon of globalization will be briefly discussed, then the relationship between globalization and COVID-19 will be addressed . Finally, how and in what respects COVID-19 affects globalization will be assessed.
II. Globalization & COVID-19
a. Concept of Globalization
As a result of globalization, social, political and economic activities go beyond borders shaping events and impacting decisions and actions on a global scale. In this sense, states, economies, cultures, and individuals became dependent on each other and mutual bonds intensify in almost every strand of activity, including but not limited to economy, environment, climate etc. Moreover, the increase in transportation & communication networks around the globe helps further globalisation . Finally, the increasing depth and speed of global interactions ensure that local events reach global dimensions and vice versa.(McGrew, 2014, p.18).
b. The Relationship between COVID-19 and Globalization
Pandemics have also a close tie to globalization. Globalization accelerates the spread of contagious diseases. Thus, local contagions have the potential to transform into pandemics (such as COVID-19), as the circulation of people and goods facilitates the spread of epidemics (Macar, 2020, p.6). Everything tends to amorph into a global dimension, and such challenges represent global aspects. Therefore, it has become very difficult for states to solve today’s problems by conventional methods (Yeşilyurt, 2020, p.429).
c. The Effects of COVID-19 on Globalization
COVID-19 has negatively affected the health systems of almost all countries exposing their vulnerabilities in fighting this scourge. It laid bare their lack of capacities to fight this challenge (Eroğlu, 2020, p.213). As a result, states’ health care systems proved to be inadequate and most failed to manage the crisis, urging them to review their health care systems.
Many countries, especially the US, had seen that the weapons are of no use in this struggle (Macar, 2020, p.8). Despite its high capital and purchasing power, the US had experienced difficulties in the supply of health and protection equipment (Kaya, 2020, p.229).
In addition to its impact on health, the COVID-19 pandemic also had socio-economic and political effects (Eroğlu, 2020, p.212). Pandemics affect international trade and travel, causing serious economic problems in a wide ranging countries. Therefore, COVID-19 led to stagnation in markets due to the weakening of export demand, the disintegration of the supply chain, and a decline in tourism revenues. Moreover, there is a decrease in consumption, income and capital expenditures as a result of work stoppages and travel restrictions (Macar, 2020, pp.8-9). Furthermore, the deterioration of the functioning of global supply chains had exposed the world to both demand (consumption & investment spending) and supply (production chains) shocks simultaneously. All companies around the world had been negatively affected by this phenomenon, and automakers such as Volkswagen and Ferrari had to suspend their production in Europe due to a lack of parts (Cinel, 2020, pp.126-132).
In that process, states had intervened in the crisis by closing borders and limiting border crossings, banning the export of medical supplies, revisiting constitutional norms to limit personal rights, and taking drastic measures for public health & safety. Controlling COVID-19, which is a global problem, with national measures, and the fact that states are the main structure that ensures public health and manage crisis of such proportions clearly demonstrated the critical role of states. The best example of this is the EU, albeit a supranational organization, which suffered setbacks in terms of European integration (Valiyeva, 2020, pp.391-396). At the beginning of this process, the EU, acting together in line with the interests of member states, had not been able to provide member states with the support they need (Yeşilyurt, 2020, p.431). Especially in Italy and Spain, and in the following days, in countries such as Britain and France, the EU experienced difficulties in the supply of basic medical equipments (Güder, 2020, p.193). In this regard, the EU countries acted more individually in the initial stages rather than acting in cooperation. Furthermore, the divisions that broke out between its members and institutions had shown the fragility of solidarity within the ranks of a supranational organisation such as the EU (Müftüler-Baç, 2020, p.21).
Since states have the capacity to control mobility and borders, they remain at the forefront rather than international organizations under such challenging circumstances. For example, Asian countries, like China, managed to limit the number of cases thanks to rapid and draconian measures (Yeşilyurt, 2020, p.430). However, despite improvements achieved such as vaccination campaigns at a later stage, the role of international organizations such as WHO and the EU remained inefficient and inadequate in the initial stages. Therefore, states stopped prioritising globalization to protect their own citizens. COVID-19 had locked both states and people in isolation, the role of states in controlling borders had increased, and states had become less open and less physically interacting with each other. These had laid the grounds for a new world order with a negative impact on globalization. This global challenge proved the importance of international cooperation, as it is very costly and difficult to counter it solely through national measures in such an interdependent global order (Müftüler-Baç, 2020, pp.21-22).
The pandemic had generated a period of slowdown and recession in economic growth. It led to different effects in each country due to the asymmetric consequences of globalization Especially those underdeveloped countries were caught more unprepared and paid a heavy toll. Even within the EU, the southern belt of member states were much more affected from the pandemic in comparison to the northern members of the EU(Eroğlu, 2020, p.226-232).
Consequently, with the pandemic, the world witnessed two different periods; pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19. Before COVID-19, there was a structure in which commercial and economic activities could be conveniently managed under the auspices of international institutions; borders were unimportant and globalization was dominant. But after COVID-19, that structure had inhibited commercial and economic activities to a great degree. That, in turn, increased the role of states in managing such crises of high magnitude through national means. Therefore, the closure of borders with the start of the pandemic, the disappearance of travel opportunities and the slow movement of goods, services and capital had an adverse impact on globalization. Pandemics had thus demonstrated the necessity of cooperation on a global basis.
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*Semanur Işıksoy is a senior student at Hacettepe University, Department of International Relations. She is also doing a minor in the Department of Psychology. She is generally interested in International Law, European Union, International Security Studies, International Relations Theories and Foreign Policy.