The end of the Cold War acted like a catalyst for the liberal international economic order and free world trade. Cash and commodities moved across the globe at will. Location patterns were reshuffled. Asian countries, especially China, beckoned with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cheap labour. With their labour market largely unregulated, they became the world’s extended workbench.
The location benefits, augmented by low energy costs and other perks, made many western companies move their production to China. Germany’s economy, too, followed the offshoring trend, relocating production lines to Asia while keeping R&D at home.
But the economic system of globalisation, stable over decades, is beginning to crack. In ever shorter intervals, it has suffered blows like these:
Setback #1: repatriation tendencies
The advantages of offshoring have evolved into dependencies. In response, a repatriation trend has emerged lately. The cancellation of international treaties, punitive tariffs, and the exclusion of companies from infrastructure projects reflect growing distrust of the global economic system. Countries refocused on their national interest. Conspicuous examples include Brexit and the politics of the Trump administration despite their different motives.
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