Why did such a sharp and steady slowdown occur against a background of loose monetary policy, supportive fiscal policy, low inflation and absence of evident large imbalances? As argued in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook report issued last week, the evidence points to uncertainty over trade tensions as a major contributor.
The incoming European Commission faces a dilemma on the transatlantic trade relationship, because of the unpredictable policies of the Trump administration. The EU must rally its citizens; the greater the divides between member states and EU institutions, the lesser the chances are of forging effective policies toward the United States and China.
President Trump’s radical trade policy continues, as do trade disputes with China. The president promised to sign far better trade deals, ensure fair treatment of American firms and reduce the United States’ trade deficit. None of these objectives have been met.
What risks face the EU with regard to China’s strategic aims in trade policy and how can the EU respond? The US effort to isolate China poses particular risks for Europe. How can the EU counter such efforts with the aim of forging its own distinct trade policy? How should the EU move forward with reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in light of differing demands and aims of trading blocs like China and the US?
International collective action is in search of a new paradigm. It cannot rely anymore on global binding rules supported by universal institutions. New forms of cooperation have emerged in a number of fields. Europe should equip itself to be an effective player in this new global game. This calls for internal governance reforms.
Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, talks on the truths of EU trade at the Bruegel Annual Meetings 2019.
Backstage at the Bruegel Annual Meetings, Giuseppe Porcaro talks with André Sapir on European trade policy.
The EU accepts the deal because it is worried about the catastrophic scenario of a world without the WTO.
China’s participation in the WTO has been anything but smooth, as its self-proclaimed socialist market economy system has alienated its trading partners. The WTO needs to translate some of its implicit legal understanding into explicit treaty language, in order to retain its principles while accommodating China.
If allowed to escalate, the trade dispute between China and the United States will significantly increase the likelihood of a global protectionist surge and a collapse in the rules-based international trading system. Here the author assesses the specific impacts on the Chinese and US economies, as well as the strategic problems this dispute poses for Europe.
Considering a world absent a multilateral trading system is not to promote such an outcome, but to encourage all to prepare for the worst and instil greater clarity in the mind of policymakers as to what happens if compromise fails.
Guntram Wolff discusses with Alicia Garcia Herrero the results of the 21st EU-China Summit