As the standoff between China and the US continues, trade, technology and security are increasingly fused into a toxic, zero-sum mix with implications well beyond the trade sphere. Decoupling and blacklisting have put the two largest economies at loggerheads, with Europe and South East Asia caught in the middle. The merits of the multilateral rules-based trade order, and the institutions that underpin it, particularly the WTO, are increasingly being questioned. With trade becoming a weapon in a geopolitical battle, governments and businesses are left wondering how to avoid taking sides.
Yet elsewhere, trade integration is moving forward, fast and with disruptive effects. China’s Belt & Road project, and its Japanese and Indian counterparts are changing flows across the Eurasian continent, bringing Europe, East Asia and the places in between much closer together. New trade deals are coming online, and large regulatory blocs are vying to set new regional and global standards.
Meanwhile the patterns of globalisation are also changing as digital technologies redefine how and where products are made, shipped and consumed. The next wave of digitization and technological innovation will not just open new markets and connect producers and consumers in novel ways. It can also spark political competition. Besides, concerns about climate change and sustainability are causing publics to question dominant trade practices and their impact on the development agenda. Have the limits of global trade been reached, or is global trade simply evolving and becoming carbon light and data-heavy? And if so, what are the new rules of the road?
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the three events of the AIG Global Trade Series events scheduled to take place in Washington DC, Paris and Singapore have been postponed. Further information and new dates will be announced soon.
Meanwhile, a selection of articles on trade-related issues by experts from the GTS partner organizations will continue to appear here.