Mckinsey & Company
Global flows: The ties that bind in an interconnected world

Deglobalization?, what deglobalization?

According to a recent McKinsey´s report, contrary to the dominant idea that the world is already deglobalizing, evidence suggest it remains deeply interconnected, and trade flows linked to knowledge and know-how have proved remarkably resilient during the most recent turbulence. The challenge therefore is to harness the benefits of interconnection while managing the risks and downsides of dependency emerged during the pandemic and in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.

  • International flows of intangibles, services, and students are now driving global integration: Trade flows of these concepts grew about twice as fast as goods in 2010–19. Within services, flows of knowledge-intensive services—including professional services, government services, IT services, and telecommunications—are growing the fastest. Data flows grew at nearly 50 percent annually.

  • Resilience of global flows in turbulent times: Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent economic and political turbulence, most global flows (goods, services, data…) of trade continued to grow or even accelerated in 2020 and 2021. The only flows that dropped substantially were those linked to the international movement of people (i.e., travel and transportation services - 40% in 2020).

  • The world is interconnected, and no region is close to being self-sufficient: Every region has been importing 25% or more (in value-added terms) of at least one important type of resource or manufactured good that it needs, and often much more.

  • Products whose origins are concentrated in just a few geographies exist in all sectors and most notably in electronics and mining: For instance, >75% of global iron exports come from Australia and Brazil.

  • Global value chains may be reshaped by new forces (national security, resilience, competitiveness) in the coming decade making them more regional (i.e., the case of semiconductors).

  • Multinational corporations account for about two-thirds of the world's exports and are key players in the globalisation of trade flows to shape the future in favour of growth and prosperity.

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