Looking at how new global political realities and government polices unfold, one could be excused for thinking that the momentum that globalisation had picked up two decades ago, is slowly coming to an end.
With Brexit setting out ‘divorce’ proceedings, UK is hoping to arm twist the European Union (EU) with critical negotiations to secure as many benefits as possible. The referendum in the UK and the subsequent triumph of those who opted to leave the EU is an indication of how nationalistic protectionism is gaining traction around the world.
The US elections and the victory of Donald Trump appears to be another major blow to all trade, commerce and employment prospects that globalisation once facilitated. These developments in the western world are likely to determine how other nations, including developing countries, are going to look at implementing measures that they would consider beneficial, even if it means closing their borders to free trade activities and financial knowledge exchange that is of mutual benefit.
One cannot help but feel that it could be a good thing to go back to old times where prices for most products stood stable and currency fluctuations were minimal. Drafting liberal terms for the import of goods has been a double-edged sword for many countries, as such policies put local manufacturers under pressure. However, liberal trade polices have helped consumers globally, allowing them to afford commodities from a variety of choices.
For instance, by opening up to global trade in the 1990s, India’s consumer market witnessed a boost, when international brands started flooding the market. Monopolistic and locally produced cars soon gave way to imported vehicles. India suddenly saw an avalanche of private channels. Once considered a luxury, television sets occupied a space even in the poorest of homes. Thus, being part of globalisation largely changed consumer behaviour in India. But, such changes also had a social impact, where the cost of medical services and education began to rise.
The new geopolitical developments may not bring about a complete reversal in trend, moving away from globalisation, but it could polarise nations on a scale that has not been witnessed in the past two decades.
The reader is a business development coordinator, based in Dubai.