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Global disentanglement amid the pandemic- August 2020

While countries grapple with their own domestic problems borne from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, international organisations have played a contentious role in supporting the world's return to economic and social normality. The IMF and WTO have jointly advocated for the maintenance of open trade policies, recognising the importance of accelerating imports of crucial medical supplies and food as well as promoting export growth in a context of low economic activity and high unemployment.

Nonetheless, COVID-19 continues to pose a challenge to global cooperation amid rising geopolitical tension and strains to historic bilateral partnerships. Notably, Washington-Beijing correspondence remain confrontational, as both industrialised juggernauts continue to play a precarious game of economic brinkmanship at the cost of international order. This has complicated the actions of organisations such as the UN, whose call for 'intensified international cooperation' has fallen upon deaf ears in the security council, where both countries hold veto power.

Additionally, the reversal of decades of integration and fractures in international relations have made developments in multilateral negotiations all the more frustrating, much to chagrin of the WTO. Should these trends persist, we could very much see the creation of a more insular economic landscape, less receptive to trade, cooperation and globalisation. Certainly, with both fingers threatening the trigger to ignite a second cold war, the collective action needed to accelerate the recovery effort may prove an insuperable task indeed.




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