UAE: in the top five

UAE: in the top five

UAE among global top 5 most connected countries

A report by logistics group DHL shows that globalisation did not collapse in 2020, but that the pandemic did transform – at least temporarily – how countries connect

January 2021

The UAE has emerged as one of the top five most globally connected countries in the world buoyed by its robust logistics capabilities and transport infrastructure according to the DHL Global Connectedness Index 2020.

Now in its seventh edition, the report compiled in collaboration with DHL and the NYU Stern School of Business provides a comprehensive assessment of globalisation during the Covid-19 pandemic. It tracks international flows of trade, capital, information and people across 169 countries and territories, finding that the UAE, along with the Netherlands, Singapore, Belgium and Ireland, lead the global ranks.

After holding steady in 2019, current forecasts imply that the index will fall significantly in 2020 due to the distancing effects of Covid-19 on societies, such as closed borders, travel bans and grounded passenger airlines. Nonetheless the pandemic is unlikely to send the world’s overall level of connectedness below where it stood during the 2008 – 09 global financial crisis.

Trade and capital flows have already started to recover and international data flows surged during the spreading pandemic as in-person contact went into the online world, boosting international internet traffic, phone calls and e-commerce.

The Netherlands has emerged as the most globally connected country

The Netherlands has emerged as the most globally connected country

“The current crisis has shown how indispensable international connections are for maintaining the global economy, securing people's livelihoods and helping companies strengthen their trading levels,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express.

“Connected supply chains and logistics networks play an essential role in keeping the world running and stabilising globalisation especially at a time of a crisis that spans our globe. This reminds us of the need to stay prepared for any challenge. The recent vaccine breakthrough has put a spotlight on the systemic importance of fast and secure medical logistics dependent on a worldwide interconnected network that effectively ensures international distribution.”

Nour Suliman, CEO of DHL Express Mena, said: “The UAE has remained resilient to the global pandemic, prompted by the government’s vigilant efforts to contain the spread very early on and minimise the country’s health, safety and economic impact. The UAE’s robust logistics capabilities and transport infrastructure enabled the country to sustain open supply chains and trade links, which ensured that local access to Covid-19 tests and the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for nationals and residents was one of the highest in the world.”

While Covid-19 has disrupted business and life around the world, it has not severed the fundamental links that connect nations.

“This report shows that globalisation did not collapse in 2020, but that the pandemic did transform – at least temporarily – how countries connect. It also demonstrates both the dangers of a world where critical linkages break down and the urgent need for more effective cooperation in the face of global challenges,” said GCI lead author Steven A. Altman, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the DHL Initiative on Globalisation at the NYU Stern School of Business.

“Stronger global connectedness could accelerate the world’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as countries that connect more to international flows tend to enjoy faster economic growth.”

The Covid-19 stress test for globalisation: Digital flows surging, trade and capital flows recovering, people flows plummeting

Predictably, lockdowns and travel bans to curb the spread of the virus have led to an unprecedented collapse of people flows in 2020. The number of people travelling to foreign countries is on track to fall 70 per cent in 2020, according to the latest UN forecast. International tourism may not return to its pre-pandemic level until 2023.

In contrast, trade, capital, and information flows have held up surprisingly well. International trade has rebounded strongly after a sharp plunge at the onset of the pandemic and remains a vital backbone for economies worldwide.

Capital flows were hit harder. Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, which reflect companies buying, building or reinvesting in operations abroad, could fall 30-40 per cent this year, as also projected by the UN.

However, strong policy responses by governments and central banks have helped to stabilise markets. Digital information flows have surged as the pandemic has sent work, play and education online. People and companies rushed to stay connected digitally, driving double-digit increases in global internet traffic.

Europe tops the ranking with the most globally connected countries, while Southeast Asian nations punch above their weight. 

The most recent data show that The Netherlands is again at the top of the ranking as the world’s most globally connected country. Singapore, Belgium, the UAE and Ireland complete the top five. Singapore leads the index on international flows relative to domestic activity. Further, no country boasts a more global distribution of flows than the UK.

Europe claims the top spot as the world’s most globalised region, with 8 of the 10 most globally connected countries located there. It leads on trade and people flows, while North America is the top region for information and capital flows. The list of economies that are seen to punch well above their weight in terms of international flows is led by Cambodia, Singapore, VietNam and Malaysia.  

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