The London Conference
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Plenary Session Four: The Liberal Economic Order: Will the Centre Hold?

Tuesday 24 October, 1000 – 1115

Since the 1970s, growing levels of international trade and investment and deepening global economic integration have been the hallmarks of an expanding liberal economic order. This has encouraged companies to create global supply chains and governments to compete with each other to attract capital, jobs and technology. Today, in the wake of the financial crisis, however, many Western countries, including the Anglo-Saxon champions of this order, face intense popular criticism that economic globalisation is rewarding only a small group of political and economic elites, and creating insecurity for the rest. China’s rise as a peer competitor in value-added sectors under a more statist model, the growing disruption caused by new technologies, and the increasingly destructive impacts of a warming climate makes this a highly uncertain time for the liberal economic order. 

Will the Trump administration’s desire to re-write bilateral and multilateral trade deals be seen by others as a tactical adjustment or a structural shift to a more zero-sum and mercantilist international economy? Might we see a rise in regulatory competition between the EU, US and an increasingly confident China? What steps can Western countries take to regain competitiveness? Do they also need stronger defences against the practices of more state-led economic models? Are developing and middle-income countries ready for the challenge of disruptive technologies and a warming climate?



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