The world is globalized to produce a T-shirt, but it is not coordinated to stop a virus. Living globalized has not been a sufficient condition to generate the necessary organization and joint action, even when the circumstances required it.
Today’s globalization makes it possible to manufacture a product in one part of the world and sell it in the other through a routine, continuous, fast, traceable and efficient process. However, this pandemic has allowed us to confirm that there is a profound dissociation and lack of coordination when it comes to generating a joint global strategy for other purposes, even if they are humanitarian. The promoted slogan “think global, act local” has played a dirty trick on us. We have a global problem and the only option available is to find a local solution.
From globalization to intraglobalization
Globalization is no longer a potential process, it is a fact. As such, it could not exist separated from the world because it is inherent to it. We could say that the world and globalization are the same thing. And of course, it is already part of each and every one of us. There are citizens of the world, people who have lived on three different continents with their families in a short period of time. Others may never have left their home country but produce the grain at one end of the planet that feeds the animals at the other. In our role as consumers, on a normal day of our lives, we buy and consume goods and services produced and generated thousands of miles away from our home and receive news about events in remote places. These are examples of our current globalization; a digital, economic, productive and financial process with permanent worldwide circulation of people, data, information, goods, services and money.
The next level of globalization
I believe that once this pandemic is over, after a necessary review period, it will be time to change the motto that has somehow betrayed us, by introducing a new and updated one: think and act intraglobally’.
This change of conception about our role in a globalized world will allow us to move to the next level and to the creation of renewed relations between the parties. Globalization will no longer be just a synonym for outsourcing, for a certain disengagement from one end of the chain to the other; we will create a new joint dynamic, with greater interaction and commitment among the protagonists.
We will forge a new globalization that will allow us to find a truly global response, whether for the usual commercial transactions or for the great problems of humanity. Calling it intraglobalization is the most direct and simple way to convey the need for the generation of new, stronger, closer and more conscious internal ties between the parties. Globalization can no longer be a synonym of disengagement, of a simple outsourcing of processes that do not suit us or that we do not want to do.
A primordial and necessary common objective
In these global relationships between parties separated by physical distance, there must be a common goal upon which the ultimate mutual benefit will be achieved. Until this crisis, we believed that the product was it; we have understood that it is only one more element of the relationship, it does not constitute a true common purpose for both parties. Neither is the economic benefit of the transaction, since at the end of the process it can exist for one party and not necessarily for the other. That common purpose must exist from now on and for both parties. It cannot benefit only one and not the other or even partially the other.
Value creation must be equitable at both ends
To achieve that ultimate shared benefit, those of us who are one link in this chain will need to get much more involved with the next link and whoever is at the opposite end. I am not referring to the physical dimension, since the parties are thousands of miles apart. Basically and to give an example, it means that I cannot order a pair of jeans to be produced in an Asian location if the value creation is not balanced. It is not enough to create value, it must be balanced on both ends of the chain. The current degree of globalization is so significant that the global balance depends on value creation being significant at both ends.
The first great lesson that this crisis has taught us is the understanding of how related and close the extremes of the chain are and how the results at one affect the opposite. Let’s be clear, I’m not just talking about money and it’s not short term. The interrelationship between selling millions of pants in a developed country and polluting a small, forgotten river in the middle of an underdeveloped country is far greater than we can perceive. It is the same relationship, apparently imperceptible, between the citizens of that same rich country and a very humble old man in a remote Chinese village who is very fond of snake soup.
Relocalization is a necessity
If, in this crisis, we are looking for a perfect example of an extreme need for relocation or intraglobalisation, we will find it in the healthcare material. The governments of most developed countries realized, in the middle of the crisis, that they did not have enough stock of medical material for protection, simple masks, gloves and gowns. They confirmed not only that they had no production capacity but also that they could not even acquire it in a timely manner when they were about to purchase it from third countries.
From this painful experience we have understood that the solution is relocalization or a global joint relationship. This means that both parties, buyer and producer, must have obligations and real common objectives in order to maintain, whatever the circumstances, an assured permanent stock, a stable price and an available increase in production capacity whenever necessary. This is intraglobalization, a global relationship with a strong and true common objective between the parties.
To confirm this point, here is an extract from the interview that the newspaper El Mundo had with Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, on this subject in the context of the pandemic last Tuesday 7 April:
El Mundo- “Will investment in health care be one of the big winners?”
Josep Borrell- “Healthcare from now on becomes a problem of security and sovereignty. It cannot be that, suddenly, we discover that an essential part of the health assets to face a crisis of this nature is delocalized in other countries. We must recover health sovereignty. We assumed that we had the resources to deal with a public health problem. We see that this is not the case. We will have to create strategic stocks and we cannot be in the hands of a globalisation that has distributed production capacities in a very unbalanced way”.
For some time now, in this same space, we have been analysing and observing how relocalization is becoming, slowly but surely, a justified and relevant process within the fashion industry. It has been taking place in spite of a certain initial scepticism and the logical disadvantages and challenges that arise along the way. It is very possible that this crisis caused by the Coronavirus will accelerate this process, not only within the textile sector but also in other areas of much greater need such as the medical, pharmaceutical and health sectors. This situation reaffirms our path and our perception that neorelocalization is the necessary weight at one end of the scale that generates the balance sought in a new intraglobalised world.