Deglobalization, Reconfiguration, or Business as Usual? COVID-19 and the limits of reshoring of globalized production
ISSN der Zeitschrift
The COVID-19 pandemic has seemingly reinforced the need for geographic restructuring and a rehoring of production, as it has demonstrated the vulnerability of globalized production. This article provides an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the geographies of production, looking particularly at developments in the automotive, electronics, and clothing industries. Criticizing overly simplified prospects for deglobalization, we argue that the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be interpreted as a trigger for a general retreat from global manufacturing but rather as an event that is reinforcing long-standing shifts toward more multipolar production and consumption. While the issue of global production network resilience has attracted great attention in corporate strategies and industrial policies, re- or nearshoring of production networks is only one of several strategies and it has hardly been implemented so far. Ongoing disruptions and, above all, geoeconomically/-politically and environmentally motivated policies could well lead to a shift in investment and sourcing patterns. Political efforts in this direction are, however, limited by pre-existing global economic development paths and the balance of power associated with them.