The Rebalancing World

Influence can come in the form of a crisis or event but can also develop over time. The same can be said about influence’s decline. The world is entering another fascinating decade of geopolitical and economic change that will certainly rebalance the world’s influencers. International governing bodies are experiencing increasing levels of infighting and ineffectiveness. Low growth and global distrust could very likely persist for years to come.

What must we do to keep a steady footing as the world rebalances?

Rebalancing world - FACTS
  • For the 110 Chinese companies in the Fortune 500, 80% of their revenue is earned domestically.5
  • In Germany, an estimated one in three companies has major Chinese customers, and around 80% rely on Chinese suppliers – significant exposure in the event of Chinese disruption.73
  • As China’s middle class grows, more consumers will travel abroad, creating even more global dependencies on China for one of the world’s largest sectors: tourism. 

COVID-19's impact on the rebalancing world

COVID item

In a few short months, the coronavirus has shown its power to kill thousands, infect millions, impact billions and dramatically influence world politics. In the short term, the virus has revealed divergent national approaches to managing epidemiological interdependence and exposed weaknesses in global governance. Rising nationalism and gaps in the international management of this global public health emergency have led to political environments in which the pandemic has affected world leaders both positively and negatively. The United States has terminated its relationship with the World Health Organization during a time when strong multilateral cooperation is most needed. Political polarization and tensions between the U.S. and China have undercut the pandemic response and threaten to further weaken global governance. The virus has had a positive impact on the perceptions of China. In a recent survey conducted by Alliance of Democracies Foundation polling 120,000 people from 53 countries, more than 60% of people surveyed thought China had responded well to the pandemic, while only a third around the world thought the U.S. response had been effective.

The coronavirus has caused massive economic damage, particularly job displacement, which will further fuel global distrust and strain cooperative trade and growth. The devastation will be especially impactful during an election year in which the political and economic consequences of how countries manage through the challenges created by the virus may have long-term impacts to their perceived global leadership.

The coronavirus blame game between Presidents Xi and Trump has placed additional tension on U.S.-China relations. The strained discussions between the two countries will continue for this and other political and economic reasons, ranging from trade disputes to both countries’ “Me first” economic policies, to South China Sea territorial disputes, semiconductors and satellites.

The demand and supply shocks created by the coronavirus have refocused attention on global supply-chain networks and global interdependence. COVID-19 has struck at the core of global value chain hub regions, including China, Europe and the U.S. The pandemic has severe implications for international production networks and may leave its consequences for years. Many companies may not have fully appreciated their vulnerability to global disruption of their supply-chain relationships and the steep cost it imposes. This exposure will certainly be reflected in companies’ future risk assessments before they decide on new production sites or when they reevaluate their current footprint.

The long-term impact of COVID-19 to the rebalancing world will be made known decades from now, but the nationalism and leadership retrenchment made worse by the pandemic can be felt now and will be for years to come.

Endnotes & Acknowledgements

Footnote item

Many 3M colleagues supported this effort by generously sharing their time, knowledge and resources. We would like to recognize the authors from our Strategy & Marketing Development group who made this publication possible by exploring and synthesizing collective knowledge to provide these updated megatrends. Please learn more about our authors and research on our Endnotes & Acknowledgements page.

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