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Published: 11 May 2022

Conflict, Sanctions and the Future of World Trade

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been met with unprecedented trade and other economic sanctions. Some members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have revoked Russia’s most-favoured-nation (MFN) status, allowing them to raise barriers to trade with Russia. This paper examines the consequences of heightened geopolitical tensions on the global trading system. It identifies and explores five scenarios for the benefit of business and government leaders navigating an increasingly uncertain landscape. Given how economically interdependent today’s strategic rivals are, the paper warns against moving towards a trading world composed of competing blocs with tenuous links between them.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been met with unprecedented trade and other economic sanctions. Some members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have revoked Russia’s most-favoured-nation (MFN) status, allowing them to raise barriers to trade with Russia. This paper examines the consequences of heightened geopolitical tensions on the global trading system. It identifies and explores five scenarios for the benefit of business and government leaders navigating an increasingly uncertain landscape. Given how economically interdependent today’s strategic rivals are, the paper warns against moving towards a trading world composed of competing blocs with tenuous links between them.

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