This year, we have chosen to use our annual update on world politics to focus on the impact global political and social developments are likely to have on international trade.
We are experiencing the end of a stable world trade regime that has lasted for three decades. While the seeds of its demise might have been sown some time ago, since 2016 the collapse has been swift. The US trade war with China reflects a shift in attitudes to world trade. Moreover, prosperous and powerful China no longer feels the need to defer to the international order.
The UK has left the European Union, a decision which has divided the country and which will significantly alter its trading relationships. Into this already volatile situation came the global coronavirus pandemic, which may weaken trade bonds even further. Both the IMF and OECD have expressed concerns about a return to protectionism, as countries respond to fears of supply security and overdependence on key imports.
For businesses, this presents a rapid shift in the rules of the game over a very short period of time. Whereas doing business across international frontiers was made easier by the framework of the WTO and membership of trading blocs, the developments of
recent years have made it more difficult. Last year’s slowdown in most major economies is a reflection of this changed landscape. Understanding this more complex system of global trade is, at once, much more difficult and much more important to the success of a business. It’s hard but necessary for any company trying to develop global business
strategies and coherent operating plans.
To bring some perspective to this disturbing and challenging picture we are fortunate to have Edward Carr, Deputy Editor of The Economist, as our guest speaker. His in-depth knowledge of the global business scene will bring insights that can help us to understand the new realities of world trade and business.