Scholz warns of ‘deglobalisation’ following Ukraine war

“I am firmly convinced that the deglobalization that some are currently propagating is a dangerous aberration. No one can disconnect from the rest of the world,” Scholz stressed in a speech at re:publica festival on Thursday. [FILIP SINGER/EPA]

German chancellor Olaf Scholz warned on Thursday (9 June) that the world is heading towards a multipolar world order that could diminish international solidarity and lead to renewed block building and deglobalisation.

Since the Cold War ended over thirty years ago, the world has been on a trajectory of intensified economic integration and globalisation. As the world is currently facing multiple crises simultaneously, this process could be unbundled, warned Scholz.

“I am firmly convinced that the deglobalisation that some are currently propagating is a dangerous aberration. No one can disconnect from the rest of the world,” Scholz stressed in a speech at re:publica festival on Thursday.

While Scholz did not refer to China and Russia directly, the message was clear. The two countries are currently moving closer together to “develop a new model of international relations,” the Chinese government said in April.

Globalisation is already under pressure due to the multiple crises of the past years.

With the global value of international trade declining by almost 10% in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to WTO data, the recovery of the international trade system is currently at risk due to the uncertainties of the Ukraine war.

The lead economist of the World Bank, Michele Ruta, warned in a recent blog post that the war in Ukraine would overhaul and reshape global value chains. While this process in itself would not mark the end of globalisation, the real risk stems from governments that are attempting to “reshoring, nearshoring, or fragmenting the trade system,” Ruta argued.

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International divisions

Scholz also warned that the recent developments and the war in Ukraine would bear the risk of a return of block-like politics in a multipolar world.

“There is a threat of a new division of the world. Everyone against everyone and everyone for themselves, instead of global responsibility and international solidarity,” Scholz said.

“The geopolitical weights have shifted even more rapidly than they already have. The world of the 21st century is not becoming multipolar; it already is,” he added.

While the West displayed a united stance towards the Russian aggression, the repercussions of the war are threatening international cooperation on multiple fronts.

As fears of famines, shortages of raw materials, energy shortages and interrupted supply chains are growing, many countries in Africa, Asia, and South America could feel “cut off and forgotten by the rest of the world,” Scholz said.

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Counteracting block politics

The West has already tried to counteract the building of new block-like politics and sought close collaboration with like-minded non-Western states.

Germany, which also launched a charm offensive in non-Western democracies across the globe, was attempting to increase these attempts further and invited India, Senegal, South Africa, Argentina and Indonesia to the G7 summit of the West’s biggest economies that will be held in late June.

“These are democracies with which we are connected,” Scholz told journalists on Wednesday, adding that it would be important that the West reaches out to these countries to discuss the problems following the Ukraine war.

However, despite these efforts, the West has received less support than it had hoped.

India, the biggest democracy on the globe, has refused to condemn Russia’s actions in the UN and has recently announced export bans on wheat, which could further add to global food shortages.

The same holds true for Africa, where Senegalese President and Chairman of the African Union, Macky Sall, called on partners to lift sanctions following a meeting with Putin – only days after he agreed on a united stance on food security with the European Union.

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[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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