The risks of external dependence, a serious lesson from the Covid | Opinion

Among the great lessons that the Covid-19 pandemic will leave is a purely economic one: the fact that globalization has its indisputable advantages, but also has great disadvantages, such as strong foreign dependence. The crisis of raw materials and capital goods that has been unleashed around the world after the end of the confinements by Covid-19 is causing a serious problem of industrial supplies and logistics bottlenecks. Tensions that in the long term could put the good pace of the recovery at risk, while in the short term they threaten to cut commercial margins and put the supply of products at risk this Christmas.

Although the National Association of Large Distribution Companies (Anged), which groups together companies such as El Corte Inglés, Alcampo, Carrefour, Ikea, Costco or MediaMarkt, ensures that they have done their homework in time to avoid problems at the last minute, The outlook is much more complicated for small businesses, whose ability to anticipate and negotiate costs is much less. The Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers recognizes that the sector has had to massively advance its purchases, and pay higher prices in exchange, which will translate into a Christmas campaign with tighter margins than in other years.

The sharp recovery in consumer demand in most economies after the paralysis imposed by the pandemic explains a chain reaction that has affected both raw materials and manufacturing and shipping. Not only the price of freight – which has multiplied by five – but also traffic jams in the main commercial ports of the world, especially in Asia, are responsible for a logistical knot that is difficult to untie. As of today, there are more than 190,000 containers paralyzed in Chinese ports, which explains that commercial orders that were usually delivered in four to five weeks are doing so in at least about ten.

In addition to the shortages, the reduction of margins and the potential inflationary effect on prices that are already on the rise, the big question posed by this supply crisis is the need, as already demanded by some sectors, such as retail, that the European economies move towards a greater relocation of their factories and production centers as a formula to reduce the strong external dependence and protect themselves against the next crises, which will sooner or later come.