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MEDIA EDUCATION

Global trade: A pandemic primer (2020)

Part I: Understanding what is at stake

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of our existing global value chains. Trade as we know it for the past 70 years are rapidly changing. Sponsored by the Hinrich Foundation, this webinar series organized by the National Press Foundation invited experts to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing global trade right now – how we got here, where it is heading, and what is at stake.

US trade policy under a Biden administration

Where would US trade policy under the next president and the new Congress head to? Two global trade experts and a leading journalist discussed what the US election means for trade policy, trade agreements with China, the UK and the EU, and the US’s relationship with the World Trade Organization.

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Are trade wars class wars?

This briefing explored the relationship between class, globalization, and changes in political leadership in the United States. As the US-China trade war continues to rage, how is the American working class being affected, and what differences would a possible Biden Administration make?

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Data and national security

A panel of experts explored the new digital trade war between the US and China, including the implications of the precedent of banning foreign companies that have potentially powerful technologies from US markets, the risks of retaliation, the effects on foreign direct investment, and the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

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Trump, Biden, and the WTO

How are the Biden and Trump trade positions likely to play out on the campaign trail and translate into policy next year? What’s the latest on the leadership contest under way in Geneva to be the next head of the embattled WTO? And what do journalists need to know about this under-covered institution now that the US membership in the WTO threatens to become a 2020 election issue?

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The New Cold War

The US-China trade war is expanding into an undeclared Cold War over trade, technology, and geopolitical influence. The briefing explored how this increasingly bitter conflict can be managed, and how journalists can cover the deteriorating US-China relationship objectively during an intensely partisan election campaign season. 

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China's dominance in raw materials

Raw materials are essential for everything and are increasingly mined or processed in China. But the Trump administration is eager to reduce US dependence. This briefing explored why US gave up production of many vital materials, what could happen if China locks down exports of them, and prospects for diversifying vital supply chains during the pandemic.

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US-China trade war

The trade war hurts both China and the US but has achieved little in hindering China’s unfair trade practices. The only losers in this “weaponization” of protectionism are US manufacturers and consumers in both countries. Three experts discussed what to watch for next in the trade war, and how journalists can best cover US-China trade tensions and the struggle for geo-economic dominance.

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The emerging techno-nationalism

Against the backdrop of deteriorating US-China relations, three experts explained the rise of techno-nationalism – the move to link technology supremacy to economic prosperity, social stability and national security. A US-China tech war accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in strategic decoupling and restructuring of supply chains away from China.

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Medical trade wars

The briefing discussed the bottlenecks in global supply chains and export restrictions imposed by some nations that are making vital medical products hard to obtain for some hospitals, businesses and individuals. It covered global trade in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

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Supply chains and food security

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions of food supply chains in the United States, although they were mainly temporary and not worthy of restrictions in American exports to China or other countries. Global supplies are plentiful, overall. While shortages or price spikes in any food tend to trigger outbreaks of economic nationalism and restrictions on food exports, data from the 2007-2009 recession show that such restrictions exacerbate the problem.

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About the series

This series of briefings on COVID-19’s impact on global trade is tailored for media throughout the world.

Journalists are invited to ask some of the leading experts from industry, government and academia about the at-risk supply chains for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies; the renewed US.-China trade war; the essential goods most at risk of disruptions; the waning influence of the World Trade Organization; whether reshoring will become a reality; and more.

The briefings are conducted on Zoom and registered journalists are allowed to ask questions by audio or chat.

About the National Press Foundation (NPF)

The primary mission of the NPF is to increase journalists' knowledge of complex issues in order to improve public understanding. Since 1976, the foundation has provided in-person professional development opportunities to thousands of editors, producers and reporters, helping them better understand and explain the impact of public policy on readers and viewers. The NPF also recognizes and encourages excellence in journalism through its awards and programs. The Hinrich Award for Distinguished Reporting on Trade, distributed by the NPF, recognizes exemplary journalism that illuminates and advances the public’s understanding of international business and trade.