Globalization can not return in time, and neither can the US
Discussions about the possible policy of the new US administration have begun. Americans are still internationalists at heart, and they don’t support isolationist foreign policy, wrote Robert Zoellick, a former president of the World Bank, in a recent opinion piece.
Will the US go back to multilateral mechanisms in the transition to the next administration? How will the current rivalry between globalization and deglobalization change in the world?
First of all, economic globalization is an objective reality and a historical trend. Although unilateralism, protectionism and isolationism are on the rise in some countries, creating headwinds and pulls against economic globalization, the globalization trend has not reversed. Because globalization is an objective requirement of production growth and an inevitable result of technological progress.
The drivers of globalization have shifted from governments to multinationals. The process has turned completely towards technology digitization, networking and intelligence. The Internet of Things (IoT), powered by 5G, big data, and cloud computing technologies, offers closer connections and broader coverage than the Internet. In the future it will no longer be a question of whether a country wants to be connected or not, but of whether individuals or countries can achieve development by remaining isolated. We believe that the globalization trend is not influenced by a country’s politics.
Second, the new US administration is likely to push diplomatic policy towards “multilateralism + national interests”. The World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization and UNESCO are all indispensable mechanisms for global governance and also where the US can play its role in international affairs.
Climate change is an issue that the US Democrats are closely following. Resuming collaboration with WHO in the fight against COVID-19 is also expected to be a top priority for the next government. Hence, the new U.S. administration is likely to revert to multilateral mechanisms that the Trump administration abandoned.
However, globalization cannot go back in time, and neither can the US. The attitudes of the US political elites to globalization that have been developed over the past four years will also have an impact on the next administration. Despite numerous disputes, there is no reason for the new government to abandon the current government’s approaches that have produced results. In general, systematic and institutional policy adjustments based on the actions of the previous administration are the more likely path the new administration will take to advance US interests.
It is more likely that the world will see a US government returning to multilateral mechanisms but doing less than it says to take responsibility in global affairs.
Regarding climate change, it is widely expected that while the US will return to global cooperation, as a developed country it may not be willing to sacrifice its interests in order to take responsibility.
In trade, too, the new US administration is not expected to withdraw from the WTO, but it will rather push WTO reform in a direction that serves US interests.
The author is the director of the Institute of Contemporary International Relations of the World Economy Institute of China. email@example.com