2017 will be a crucial year for the future of globalization
Globalization – the worldwide movement towards economic and cultural integration- is according to many under serious threat after Trump’s election and Brexit vote. Indeed, both American and British voters showed that they are sick of centrist politicians who promoted globalization for decades, blaming them for calamities such as unemployment and income inequality. This is one major reason for the ongoing shift from globalization, however, the question is how far this trend can stretch, considering that in 2017 there are decisive elections in France and Germany.
The threat is posed more on cultural rather than economic globalization.
The political results of 2016 and any similar outcomes in 2017 are not such a peril for economic globalization. A decreasing trend already existed, as a global trade to GDP ratio has been falling since 2010, probably reflecting China’s economic deceleration. Even if trade continues its slight decrease, it is quite excessive to argue that just because there are more nationalist politicians in office the whole globalized economic system will be endangered. For instance, no matter how much Trump wants American firms to reduce outsourcing and offshoring, it will never be as much profitable for companies like Apple to produce everything domestically. This will allow for economic globalization as we know it today to be quite secure.
The same cannot be told for cultural globalization.
Lately, a great proportion of voters, particularly in Europe, have turned to the far right parties blaming irrationally minorities and foreigners for all ills and believing against any logic that if we close our borders and turn our back to the world the golden past will somehow be revived.
Xenophobia is growing around the world causing skepticism towards anything that unites nations, such as the Schengen zone, the treaty that provides free movement of people across Europe. Schengen zone is currently the hallmark of European integration, as it gives the right to Europeans to live and work in other countries freely. It is as easy for a Greek living in Athens to move to another city in Greece, as to move to another country member of the zone. The benefits of this situation for European citizens are apparent and it would be a shame to lose them, just because of xenophobia and anti-globalization ideologies.
France and Germany have been the two countries that initially materialized the idea of the European Union and have been its core since then, so it is indisputably unimaginable to have a united Europe without them. Therefore, it is quite worrying that currently two far-right and Eurosceptic parties, National Front in France and AfG in Germany are polling second and third respectively.
The political events of 2017 should not be the beginning of the end for globalization.
Unfortunately, we cannot undo the political mistakes of 2016. What we can do, though, is be more thoughtful when it comes to the major elections of 2017. Voters in France and Germany should by any means avoid casting a ballot for National Front and Alternative for Germany. Their win could really mean the end of the Schengen zone and even of the European Union, therefore indeed affecting significantly globalization as we know it today.
I remain optimistic and expect that at least my generation has learned from the blunders of 2016, such as the Brexit vote and will avoid creating a tomorrow in which there are even more xenophobia and distance among nations.