The end of globalization? | 332 (February 2017)

The role of protectionism in the global economy was the main talking point at the 47th Annual World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos on January 17-20.

2017-04-13 20:11 Views 482

The end of globalization?

The role of protectionism in the global economy was the main talking point at the 47th Annual World Economic Forum, which took place in Davos on January 17-20.

Olga Mikhaylova, PR Manager , Region 1

The first time European business leaders gathered in Davos was in 1971 at the initiative of Geneva University Professor Klaus Schwab. Back then it resembled more of a classic business forum in which entrepreneurs discussed management techniques and developed strategies to become more competitive.

But by the mid-1970s the Forum had already gained a reputation as a venue for important political negotiations. It would host meetings between thenSouth African President Frederik Willem de Klerk and opposition leader Nelson Mandela and Israeli President Shimon Peres and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Today the forum, which traditionally takes place at the start of the year, serves as a unique litmus test to identify the key trends in world politics and economics for the coming 12 months.

In 2017 the trends will likely be related to a growth of protectionism in the US, UK and Russia, China’s continued economic expansion and political uncertainty in Europe, which will be host to several key national parliamentary and presidential elections.

The major highlight of this year’s Davos event was, of course, the speech by China’s President Xi Jinping, who surprisingly stepped up as a defender of free trade and globalization and called for the removal of trade barriers to “deliver its benefits to all countries.”

Donald Trump didn’t come to Davos; he was busy preparing for the inauguration. But he did reply to China’s leader in absentia, Tweeting that he intends to pursue his “buy American and hire American” policy, which foresees an increase in trade tariffs.

The contradictions between American and Chinese policy has already worried the world’s oil exporters, which are concerned about falling global demand. “The [world’s] two largest economies have to sort out their differences for the wellbeing of the global community,” Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters.

The recent agreement to cut production between OPEC and non-OPEC members, most notably, Russia, is expected to play an important role in stabilizing oil prices. OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said he was confident of the “long-term” nature of cooperation between the organization and Russia.

Russian attendees, led by Deputy PM Igor Shuvalov, were full of optimism. Russia’s stock market has surged by over 50% in the last year, influenced in no doubt by rising oil prices and a hope that the new US administration might ease economic sanctions.

In the words of Russian Foreign Direct Investment Fund Head Kirill Dmitriev, “the potential for further growth of Russia’s market by 50% and higher exists and it’s not based solely on the chance that sanctions will be lifted, but on future economic growth.”

Materials from Reuters were used in this article

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