Context: Although all world leaders have acknowledged the global imperative in dealing with the virus, they have put the nation first.

Sovereignty is certainly back:

  • Collective action is not easy to come by in current pandemic
    • The last few decades have seen the growing awareness of “global problems” like climate change and the need for “global solutions”. 
    • However, in the case of Corona,considering shutting down borders of most nations,it is difficult to find a global solution in the current scenario.
  • Restrictions on exports: Many nations, including India, have banned the export of much-needed medicines and equipment to combat the virus.

Solidarity is under stress, but not dead:

  • The idea of a “borderless world” had gained much acceptance in recent years, but is now under serious questioning
  • Competition: 
    • for example, how the US, Canada and Europe are outbidding each other in buying medical material from China.
    • USA is angry with one of the leading American producers of masks, for exporting to other nations at a time of huge domestic shortfall. 
  • G-20 affirmed that its member states “will work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders”.However, The US ban on exports of medical supplies came just days after it.

What is the problem?

  • The governments are trapped in a crisis that is testing two important assumptions that guided the world in the last three decades.
  • One is that globalisation, with its long and transborder supply chains, generates prosperity through economic efficiency. 
  • Second was that economic globalisation based on the dispersal of production will serve the interests of all nations.
  • The west championed the idea of globalism that will transcend national sovereignty in terms of both institutions and values.
  • However,nationalism and sovereignty began to appear in the West well before the Corona crisis. 
    • Britain walked out of the European Union claiming the need to “take back control” of its borders.
    • Trump has sought to push Washington away from the trinity of America’s post-war political commitments-to open borders, free trade, and multilateralism.
    • Corona crisis is confirmation of the dangers of excessive globalisation: This argument is finding some resonance in Europe.for instance France President stated that we must rebuild our national and European sovereignty.
  • The uneven distribution of the benefits from the dispersal of production and free movement of labour has undermined political support for economic globalisation in the West. 
    • China’s emergence as the world’s factory: China is misusing global economic interdependence for unilateral political advantage.

What lies ahead of the crisis?

  • Countries are likely to move to diversification of external production, short supply chains and stockpiles of essential materials to limit vulnerability during times of crises.
  • The palpable anger against China: It will result in long-term changes in the relations between China and the West and some rearrangement of multilateral mechanisms.
    • For keeping the world in the dark about the spread of the coronavirus.
    • China’s “mask diplomacy” and political triumphalism after it got in control of the situation in Wuhan.

Out of this restructuring new international coalitions are likely to emerge and it will help to explore new forms of solidarity. Like the instinct for self-preservation, solidarity too is part of human nature.


Source: Indian express