As domestic lockdowns are gradually eased in Europe, Asia, and parts of South America, international travel is becoming a complicated question for national governments. Reopening borders has the potential to inject foreign money into economies devastated by the pandemic even as it increases the potential for continued spread of the Covid virus. Pressure over the issue continues to grow, particularly in countries which depend on tourism or foreign talent. Even so, movement across borders may be one of the last elements of the global economy to recover from the pandemic due to the risks it entails.
Reopening borders is vital to boosting the global economy; however, a myriad of international travel restrictions are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The implications of such continued limits on travel will extend beyond the travel and airline industries. Continued travel limitations have the potential to slow global economic recovery, alter international relationships, and disrupt supply chains. Dependence on foreign technical assistance and labor markets is becoming increasingly apparent across the globe; even as the European Union has opened internal borders, its reliance on labor from non-EU countries has hindered its ability to normalize business operations. Beyond this, uneven reopenings across countries and regions have the potential to provide an advantage to companies from countries that are permitted to travel and conduct face-to-face meetings.
Business leaders should consider the implications of an inability to meet with existing or potential clients face-to-face until at least 2021. Companies with an international footprint should review and potentially revise policies and procedures for rotating managers and other personnel across countries. Firms which typically deploy staff with technical expertise to conduct on-site repairs should evaluate remote or local alternatives. Expansion goals will likely be limited by a reliance on virtual meetings and exhibitions which are less effective than those that typically happen in person.
Questions to Consider:
How do indefinite travel restrictions for U.S. citizens influence international business relationships? How can businesses bolster partnerships with overseas firms absent in person meetings?
COVID-19: The HIGHLIGHTS
John’s Hopkins University reported over 3.3 million total known Covid cases in the U.S. and over 135,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Amidst this backdrop, Covid cases continue to spike throughout the U.S. and governors are facing growing pressure to reimpose stay-at-home orders as Covid threatens to overwhelm hospitals in a number of states. California rolled back efforts to reopen its economy even as Florida reported over 10,000 new Covid cases in a day for the fifth time in a week. Debates surrounding reopening U.S. schools are increasing in intensity as Los Angeles and San Diego school districts announce plans to administer all classes online while some school districts in New York City are exploring a hybrid model.
Beyond the noise
Border restrictions: The European Union reopened its borders to international travelers from fifteen countries on July 1st with the U.S. as a notable exclusion given its continued growth in Covid cases. Americans are used to being the ones implementing restrictions, not being on the receiving end. However, political and policy decisions made by the U.S. throughout the pandemic have turned the scales and international travel for Americans has been nearly brought to a halt. The ramifications for U.S. businesses with international sales, contracts, and manufacturing are potentially devastating as everything from face-to-face meetings to in person technical tasks are delayed indefinitely.
Secure options: Consider the business implications of travel bans for U.S. citizens and how best to bolster and maintain international relationships. Review best practices for international operations if international travel is limited for the long term.
International disparity: Forecasters assess that economic output in advanced economies will likely regain its footing in 2021, after plunging in the first half of 2020; however, not all recoveries will be equal. Stringency of lockdowns, rates of reopening, and industrial structure all play a role in recovery. Countries with manufacturing bases appear to be holding up better than those reliant on retail or hospitality industries. Overall, countries that successfully countered the virus seem to be experiencing better financial recoveries.
Secure recovery: Plan for inconsistent economic recoveries based on variances between numbers of Covid cases and degrees of consumer confidence.
TRUSTED RESOURCES: for numbers & guidance
Johns Hopkins University – Coronavirus Resource Center
World Health Organization – COVID-19 Pandemic
Center for Disease Control – Coronavirus (COVID-19)