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Hinrich Foundation, UnHerd Insights hold talks on trade war, Brexit


Published 18 September 2019

Hinrich Foundation, in partnership with UnHerd Insight, organized a vibrant roundtable discussion on trade war, Brexit and existential risk to the multilateral trading system on September 18, 2019, at Shake Farm HQ in Singapore.

The event titled, “The Future of Global Trade and Prosperity: Impact of the US-China Trade War and Brexit”, saw more than 50 people participate in a discussion with three global trade and international affairs experts. The discussion was moderated by Hinrich Foundation’s Director of Public Affairs, Berenice Voets. The experts included:

  • Stewart Paterson – Research Fellow, Hinrich Foundation, and author of China. Trade and Power: Why the West’s Economic Engagement Has Failed
  • James Crabtree – Associate Professor of Practice, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
  • Sam Olsen – Head of Asia Pacific, UnHerd Insight
Hinrich Unherd Panel
Stewart Paterson, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow, in a panel with James Crabtree, Associate Professor of Practice, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Sam Olsen, Head of Asia Pacific, UnHerd Insight

According to the experts, globalization is receding due to the current trade turmoil, however, it won’t die but will flow similar to waves. This is largely due to three reasons:

  • Significant/persistent trade imbalances since global financial crisis,
  • Trade becoming a tool for achieving political/geopolitical goals, and
  • Uneven distribution of trade benefits (with an important erosion of disposable income for the three lower quintiles in Western economies)

The experts also opined that current trade turmoil has led to increase in regionalization like the Anglosphere Plus (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other common law countries) and they could emerge and dominate the trade flows.

In order to make global trade more sustainable, the experts said that there is a need to rebuild public support for globalization which will require ensuring a better distribution of benefits.

According to Stewart Paterson, nominal exchange rate flexibility on a national level will prevent prolonged trade imbalances and their undesirable effects, which will help trade more sustainable. Furthermore, Crabtree emphasized on building stronger institutional arrangements to make level-playing field for trade to be sustainable.

The roundtable discussion was followed by a lively question and answers session, where participants inquired about the future of global trade system and trade war.