Article originally published in El Nacional. Translated from Spanish to English.
We live in interesting and challenging times. The world was getting smaller and we thought globalisation was humanity’s destiny. Now that certainty is being put to the test.
The scientific, economic, social and technical advances made during the last decade exceed those made in 100 years. The achievements of the last two years are even greater than those of the last decade and the future pace will be even faster. The scenario is exciting.
At this key moment, Mediterranean cooperation is more necessary than ever because we are facing a global crisis that is still avoidable. The Mediterranean region must and can make better use of logistics as a lever for its economic and ecological development. Regionalisation emerges as a great source of opportunities.
The diversity of our region must be a great catalyst for growth and integration, for the creation of new businesses and internationalisation. Mediterranean talent without borders creates value, an inclusive and adaptable style that cultivates the ability to bring out the best of all od us in a diverse environment.
Climate change and water scarcity will amplify the impact of different conflicts, generating new challenges. The expected growth of tourism, maritime traffic, aquaculture and the search for hydrocarbons in the coming years call for measures to manage these uses and ensure the sustainability of their enormous wealth.
For too long, companies have organised their operations with costs in mind. The COVID-19 health crisis has highlighted the need for companies to design their supply chains around risk competitiveness rather than cost alone. International and European companies will therefore be guided to mitigate risks by resorting to offshoring, which could be costly, or regional diversification, which is less costly.
Regionalisation is a source of immense opportunity, especially when barriers to trade can be reduced while faster and more cost-effective transport methods can be unlocked. End-to-end logistics goods and services should be designed to help ensure that regional trading blocs create environments for businesses to thrive, with a deep understanding of the regions in which they operate.
The new economic and trade paradigm is causing logistics chains to shorten and to become regional chains. In this context, the Mediterranean region could become a thriving North-South complementary production frontier, with a geographical location that makes it possible to shorten logistical circuits with the EU and Africa, and to reduce the carbon footprint. The cost of labour, although higher than in Asia, is still very advantageous, not to mention the potential for scientific and technological innovation proved by the COVID-19 crisis.
But the challenges of this delocalisation and the interest of co-industrialisation between various Mediterranean and European economies have to be faced.
Tested by COVID-19, several industrialised countries have decided to reorganise their value chains, to opt for national or regional relocation. This current trend, of which industrial value chains are a part, could possibly constitute an opportunity for the Mediterranean region.
The historic change ahead implies the implementation of an ambitious agenda to support the integration of Mediterranean economies. The challenges require the sum of commitments that we must all make. It is said that the Mediterranean Sea is too narrow to separate and too wide to unite. Europe needs to be involved because its future is intimately linked to the economic and social development capacity of the southern Mediterranean and African countries.
Now is the time to return to the Mediterranean. Now is the time to think, exchange, collaborate, act and to understand that fundamental change comes from meeting unmet needs, empowering people to drive the change we want to create and to shape the future of the Mediterranean and global economy.
We need to rethink the relationship between the EU and the Mediterranean and promote a common project capable of competing in the world of large geographical areas or giant economic unions, where the Mediterranean becomes the key place that provides solutions to global supply chain problems and where the future of the Mediterranean and Europe does not depend on global geopolitics.
We have to overcome the challenges to create wealth and contribute to the common good by strengthening the social fabric in a sustainable way that respects human dignity and nature. This journey to the Mediterranean is the path to the future which, because of its stability and economic growth in the whole area, depends on the participation of all actors in civil society to boost investment and generate wealth.
Because nowhere like in the Mediterranean is the future written, where not only paths cross, but also opportunities and talents. Nowhere more than in the Mediterranean is there a wealth of experience of progress and collaboration and the ability to turn every challenge and every apparent contradiction into an opportunity.