Global Cooperation

Trade war and the future of globalization - top quotes from the World Economic Forum in China

Li Keqiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China during the session Opening Plenary with Li Keqiang  at the World Economic Forum - Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People's Republic of China 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt Von Loebell at the World Economic Forum - Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People's Republic of China 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt Von Loebell

"Follow the trend of globalization and promote free trade" - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Image: World Economic Forum/ Greg Beadl

Robin Pomeroy
Podcast Editor, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: Annual Meeting of the New Champions

For anyone fearing a relentless trade war between the world's two biggest economies, there was a glimmer of optimism on the eve of this year's Summer Davos: the leaders of China and the United States pulled back from the brink and agreed to restart trade talks.

In the days that followed, political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum's annual China meeting consistently returned the the big question: what is the future of globalization - do we need more of it, less or something different entirely?

Here's what some of the key speakers had to say at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC), whose theme this year was "Leadership 4.0: Succeeding in a New Era of Globalization".

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang:

"We need to follow the trend of globalization and promote free trade and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We need to promote equal rights, equal opportunities and fair rules and improve institutional arrangements on that basis."

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Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

"Nowadays one country cannot go alone. This is a global village. With neighbouring countries some problems may remain but it can be solved amicably, bilaterally, through discussion."

"We need development, we need development for our people. I want to build up my country as a poverty-free country... We're opening up our economy for everybody."

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Jayraj Nair, Chief Training Officer at Indian IT multinational Wipro.

“The phenomenon of globalization is not reversible. The sense of a unipolar or bipolar world is not there anymore. It is a multipolar world … As far as technology is concerned, the scaling of AI, or 5G, or blockchain, any of these technologies will continue with the velocity that is happening today. In fact, the velocity will only exponentially escalate.”

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Jin Keyu, Professor of Economics at London School of Economics

"The US trade tensions are also a reflection of the problems of globalization. This is not just about trade, the issues of income inequality, but it's also about financial globalization. What the City of London wants, what the governments, the business sector of the governments want, is not fundamentally necessarily consistent with what people want around the world...

"China was slotting into the global system as it is, in the early few decades, because it was carefully listening to the rules and trying to learn the rules and trying to be a good participants. But in the last 20 years or so, especially in the last 10 since the 2009 crisis, there's been more and more questions about whether existing economic, monetary, financial architecture is a sound one, and here is an opportunity for China to really shape it and so China is no longer just slotting in."

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Joachim von Amsberg, Vice-President, Policy and Strategy, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

“The basis for countries to work together is becoming weaker, trust in the international system is becoming weaker - because you have countries that no longer act in their rational long-term economic interests ... As trust is less prevalent it becomes much harder to deal with those uncertain events. That makes it more likely that accidents happen… The accidents, whether they are on economic or security or other dimensions that require countries to work together, work very quickly, as they did in the 2008-9 financial crisis where the large economies of the world very quickly took very unconventional measures in a highly co-ordinated way. Would that still happen today? I am doubtful. That is why I am worried”

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Charles Li, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing

"Today we’re really looking at potentially two operating systems on a global scale that are trying to find a way of talking to each other ... the Eastern model where politically we are still top-down, elitist, but ... a flat economic structure in China with largely a C2C culture prevailing ... in the West, you still have ... popular representative democracy and popular election(s) and popular social media... On the other hand, the economy is still dominated by a pyramid of top-down elitists.

"(We will see) whether or not that technologically flattened economic background is going to ultimately change China politically or we are going to look at a technologically (economically) flattened America, Europe ... These two operating systems are so different now that it’s increasingly very difficult for them to talk and it’s increasingly challenging for them to connect."

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Global CooperationTrade and InvestmentGeographies in Depth
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