The Covid-19 pandemic was supposed to put the final nail in the coffin of globalization and prompt a retreat into a new era of protectionism. Instead, some are now calling the crisis the Great Accelerator.

The drop in international commerce was quick and steep during the first coronavirus lockdowns, but a rebound fueled by emergency fiscal and monetary stimulus has been almost as sharp. Global trade is finishing the year on a strong upswing.

Following two years of the US-China tariff war, trade carried out through sprawling networks of suppliers -- the bogeyman of protectionism backers -- are acting as lifelines to consumers and shock-absorbers for many businesses. Companies like Samsonite International SA to Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. are reinforcing their sources of production abroad instead of retreating from global markets.

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