Just when we thought things could not get any worse for globally- minded companies with protectionism, tit-for-tat tariff barriers and tough immigration policies all set against them, along comes Covid-19.
This pandemic respects no borders, ethnicities or political ideologies. Health experts insist that containment and cure will necessitate a joined-up and consistent global response, yet to date that has been sadly absent from the narrative.
As part of its EU exit mitigation, the UK government has prioritised a wide-ranging free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. Ireland-UK relations have been under some strain due to the unresolved border issue, while mainland Europe has been unsettled by the anti-European rhetoric driven by media and Brexit ideologues.
And yet, there are many contradictions in these positions.
The European bloc is by far the largest investor in the UK, accounting for more than half the volume of its foreign direct investment (FDI), and its most important trade partner by a factor of 4.5.
The US is the largest investor in Ireland, the UK, and Europe with 50pc, 36pc and 23pc shares respectively. Ireland is much more dependent on US - and UK - for investment than Europe. But the UK depends on Ireland for much of its meat consumption and if you check out the origin of most of the fruit and veg in any UK multiple, Europe is the dominant source.
So trade negotiators would do well to remember on what side their bread is buttered - literally.
The pandemic has brought a whole new layer of complexity to global trade and a resurgent 'protectionist stance'. Not in the traditional sense around national or sensitive industries like energy and defence, but in public health, economic resilience and government interventions.
For example, India has put a ban on exports of paracetamol, believing that its domestic needs are more acute than the export revenue from its successful pharmaceutical sector. Europe launched a collective initiative among high-tech manufacturers to produce more much-needed ventilators that, bizarrely, the UK opted out of.
Meanwhile, a US manufacturer of reagents is interested in expanding its facilities in Manchester - but only on condition the UK allows them to export to Europe and does not monopolise supply.
The business case for investment by the virus-resilient e-commerce giants like Amazon depends on market access, seamless border and logistical arrangements and a plentiful supply of minimum wage packers and delivery drivers. A high proportion of those workers come from central Europe.
We are also hearing "never again" from many US and European manufacturers who have been exposed to supply chain breakages and interruptions from China, and there is feverish activity and planning around re-shoring and reducing dependencies.
The Northern Ireland Executive has played politics with cross-border co-operation on procurement from China and all-island alignment of distancing arrangements - perhaps under the impression that there are green and orange strains of the virus.
This pandemic will create a significant global economic shock which, based on China's experience, we hope will be short-term.
It remains to be seen which tactics - from herd immunity to isolation to mass testing - are most effective, but one thing is certain, the global trade playbook will need hefty revisions.
Of course there will be, and are, resilient sectors, companies and markets, but will they make short-term self-interest or restoring the global order their post-Covid priority?
Mark O'Connell is CEO and founder of OCO Global