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As economies revive, is a surge in protectionism inevitable?

The impact of protectionism on the global trade landscape

This podcast episode was recorded on 1 September 2020.


Rem Korteweg, Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael Institute


Chris Southworth, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce UK
Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce France
Christian Bluth, Megatrends Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung

The AIG Global Trade Series 2020 examines the ongoing transformation of the world’s multilateral trading system.

Even before the pandemic struck, a rising tide of protectionism was eroding the global trading system. Responding to the growing scepticism of voters about the benefits of open trade, policy makers in both developed and developing economies were increasingly turning to the protectionist tool-kit – to tit-for-tat tariffs, restrictive measures, and subsidies.  

The economic devastation caused by Covid-19 has only strengthened the protectionist impulse globally.   In the immediate crisis countries acted swiftly and unilaterally to implement more restrictive and discriminatory trade measures, particularly in the health sector.  Now the focus has shifted to rebuilding national economies, generating jobs, preserving public services, and securing living standards.  As governments worldwide confront these challenges, opinion surveys in multiple countries show support for protectionism and a belief that the solution lies in “taking back control”.  

In this podcast, moderated by Rem Korteweg of the Clingendael Institute, Christian Bluth of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs and Chris Southworth from the International Chamber of Commerce discuss the impact of protectionism on the global trade landscape.  

Can the protectionist tide be checked?  What more can business do to strengthen the political case for bringing down trade barriers as a route to growth?  And how can trade be made more inclusive and sustainable, so that the benefits of open markets are both recognised and more widely shared? 

The Global Trade Series is a collaboration between AIG and the following international organizations with leading expertise on global trade: Georgetown Law, Institute of International Economic Law; Chatham House; the Clingendael Institute; the International Chamber of Commerce; the Delors Institute; the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and the Bertelsmann Stiftung (Knowledge Partner).

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