Corona and the war in Ukraine have shown how vulnerable globalization makes countries and companies. Many entrepreneurs suffer from disrupted supply chains and are looking for their suppliers closer to home. But don't think we're done with globalization.

There are contradictory trends in globalization. If we look at countries like Russia and China, we see that trade barriers are being erected worldwide. But we also see that new trade relations are developing elsewhere. Our own research shows that the number of trade embargoes did not increase in 2022, but in fact decreased slightly. Global trade is adapting to the circumstances.

The trade war between the US and China is commanding a lot of attention. A lot has changed in practice too. The US imports far fewer Chinese products. They are now knocking on the doors of neighbouring Asian countries for a large part of their imports. So in nominal terms, the overall picture of globalization remains much the same.

Although the Chinese economy is less buoyant, China's role in world trade still continues to be extremely dominant. This is especially true for specific sectors such as computers, telecom, electronics, household appliances, metals, cars, transport, chemicals and machines and appliances. Together, these sectors account for more than half of world trade.

What China buys elsewhere in the world is only a minimal part of global production (0.8%). Conversely, as a seller, China is the world's absolute leader. The country exports nearly $3.4 trillion worth of goods. The US is a long way behind with $1.8 trillion and Germany comes third with $1.4 trillion.

How dependent are the US and Europe on Chinese products? Our research shows that China is the key supplier for the US for 276 types of goods and for the Europe for 141 types of goods. China only depends on 22 types of goods for which the US is the key supplier and for 188 types of goods with Europe as the key supplier. Should trade relations between China on the one hand and the US and Europe on the other ever be completely severed, the US and Europe clearly have more to lose than China.
Which countries are the most likely to fill China's place for the US and Europe? According to our researchers, these are:
The US and Europe could also step up their own cooperation.

What is striking about globalization is that it is changing both geographically and at sectoral level. For example, we see the growth of intra-regional trade (eg in Asia-Pacific and Africa) due to an increase in the number of regional trade agreements.

Globalization is also driven by the development of certain technologies and sectors. The following sectors are the largest in terms of globalization:

  • Computers & telecoms, electronics, home appliances (14% of global trade)
  • Metals (14% of global trade)
  • Cars & means of transport (9% of global trade)
  • Chemicals (9% of global trade)
  • Machinery and equipment (5% of global trade)

Together, these five sectors represent more than half of the global trade.

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