Globalisation relies on complex links – global value chains (GVCs) – that connect producers across multiple countries. These producers often use highly specialised intermediate goods, or “inputs”, produced by only one distant, overseas supplier. COVID-19 has severely disrupted these links.
Although the global economy was fragile at the start of 2020, many hoped for increased international trade following the US-China Phase One trade deal. COVID-19 has scuppered those hopes, bringing the world’s factories to a standstill and severely disrupting global supply chains.
China plays a key role in this. According to Chinese customs statistics, the value of Chinese exports in the first two months of 2020 fell by 17.2% year on year, while imports slowed by 4%.