The success and popular support for any government depends to a large extent on its ability to deliver economic prosperity. Yet tensions are rising between national interests that governments are elected to defend and economic integration that the global economy demands and which a successful economy requires. 



Wu Jianmin

Member, Foreign Policy Advisory Group, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China


Wu Jianmin is a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, a Special Research Fellow of the Counsellors’ Office of the Chinese State Council, Vice President of the European Academy of Sciences, and China’s former Ambassador to France (1998–2003), the UN (1996–98) and the Netherlands (1994–95). He has served as President of the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, Executive Vice President of the China National Association of International Studies, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Committee and spokesman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. From 2003 to 2007, he was President of the International Bureau of Expositions, the intergovernmental organization overseeing World Fairs. He graduated in French from the Beijing Foreign Studies University and was an interpreter for Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. In 1971, he was on China’s first delegation to the UN.

Pascal Lamy

President Emeritus, Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute; Director-General, World Trade Organization (2005—2013)


Pascal Lamy was Director-General of the WTO from 2005 to 2013. A committed European and member of the French Socialist party, he was Chief of Staff for the President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, from 1985 to 1994. He then joined Crédit Lyonnais bank as Chief Executive until 1999, before returning to Brussels as European Trade Commissioner until 2004. He is currently President Emeritus of the think tank Notre Europe, Chair of the Global Agenda Council on global governance at the World Economic Forum and Chair of the UN World Committee on Tourism Ethics, among many other board positions, and the author of various books on global governance, Europe and international trade. He has degrees from HEC School of Management, where he is also affiliate professor, the Institut d’Études Politiques (Sciences Po) and the École Nationale d’Administration.

Seraina Maag

President and Chief Executive Officer EMEA, AIG


Seraina Maag is President and Chief Executive Officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at AIG. She previously served as Chief Executive of North American Property & Casualty for the XL Group, Chief Financial Officer and then President of Zurich North America Commercial’s Specialties Unit, and head of Investor Relations and Rating Agencies for Zurich Financial Services in Switzerland, where she was responsible for managing relationships with global investors, analysts, and rating agencies. Before joining Zurich in 2002, she was a founding partner and financial analyst for NZB Neue Zürcher Bank in Switzerland. Between 1990 and 2000, she held various management positions in underwriting and finance at Swiss Reinsurance in Switzerland and Australia. In 2009, she became a member of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group AG and Credit Suisse AG. In 2009, she was elected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and named one of Business Insurance magazine’s Women to Watch. She holds an MBA from Monash Mt Eliza Business School in Australia and is a Certified Financial Analyst.

John Peet

Director, Open Society European Policy Institute


John Peet has been Europe Editor at The Economist since 2003, responsible for coverage of the European Union, Russia, Turkey, the Caucasus and the Balkans. He joined The Economist in 1986 and, before taking up his current position, held a range of posts including Brussels (EU) Correspondent, Executive Editor, Washington Correspondent and Britain Correspondent. His surveys and special reports have covered topics such as management consulting, health care, financial centres, the American south, global finance, e-commerce, water, Spain, the European Union, European Monetary Union, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, the future of Europe, Turkey and, most recently, France.He has contributed to various books, including The Frontiers of Europe and The Foreign Policy of the European Union (both Brookings Institution). He has also written pamphlets for the Centre for European Reform and co-wrote Unhappy Union: how the euro crisis – and Europe – can be fixed (2014).

Dr Vera Songwe

Country Director for Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania, The World


Dr Vera Songwe is the World Bank Country Director for Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania, based in Dakar, Senegal. A Cameroonian national, she joined the Bank in 1998 as a young professional in the East Asia and Pacific Region. She has worked on several countries and regions including Cambodia, Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Mongolia, and the Philippines. Prior to joining the Bank, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern California and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, USA. She is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institute with the Global Economy and Development and Africa Growth Initiative and is a member of the African Leadership Network. She has published several articles on governance, fiscal policy, agriculture and commodity price volatility and trade. She holds a PhD in Mathematical Economics from the Center for Operations Research and Econometrics at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium.

Yannis Stournaras

Governor, Bank of Greece Minister of Finance, Greece (2012—14)


Professor Yannis Stournaras is the Governor of the Bank of Greece, having previously served as Greece’s Minister of Finance. He teaches Economics at the University of Athens. As Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the Ministry of Finance (1994–2000) he helped negotiate Greece’s entry into the Economic and Monetary Union. He was on the board of directors of the Public Debt Management Office (1998–2000), Chief Executive Officer of Emporiki Bank, Vice Chairman of the Association of Greek Banks (2000–04), and Director General of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (2009–12). He graduated in Economics from the University of Athens and has an MPhil and DPhil from Oxford University.He worked as a Special Adviser to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (1986–89) on public enterprises and incomes policy, and to the Bank of Greece (1989–94) on monetary policy.

Video highlight


‘The reason why trade opening works is because it’s painful; and the reason why it’s painful is because it works.’

Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus, Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute; Director-General, World Trade Organization (2005-13)

‘What is the name of the game in our time? Win-win cooperation.’

Wu Jianmin , Member, Foreign Policy Advisory Group, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China

Key discussion points

The opening of trade and foreign investment is painful because it works. Opening up a country’s economy to trade and foreign investment by definition creates some losers as previously protected businesses are exposed by the global marketplace. A system of ‘protection’ moves to a system of ‘precaution’, and inequality in the competitiveness of previously isolated national systems brings economic shock to local populations and businesses. In an era of slower economic growth, it becomes harder to balance this out with social transfers and for populations to see the benefits of globalized trade.

TPP is the last of the old-style FTAs; TTIP is the first of the new. Whereas the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other free trade agreements (FTAs) have mostly been about breaking down tariffs and trade barriers, TTIP is about regulatory convergence. This means that cultural differences have become more important to trade. Differences in public opinion on genetically modified crops, for instance, between the US and Europe, are difficult to reconcile. The only solution may be to align at the ‘highest level of precaution’ on these issues; lowering standards to stimulate trade will not be accepted by the population.

Democracy is increasingly in conflict with economic reality. Trade protection is still popular among publics, but it makes no sense when supply chains are globalized. The Greek government has a democratic mandate to resist demands from international creditors, but this cannot be reconciled with Greece’s membership of the euro. But if governments ignore the message from voters, they flock to more populist and extremist parties.

The solution to populist politics may be education. Allowing people to see that the reason they are facing hardship is not because of foreigners, but because the economy is not responding well to the broader domestic or international system, and showing them that suitable adjustments and reforms can and need to be implemented is a new goal for governments in the new world of trade.

The private sector must be part of the response to the inequality of globalization. Governments need to partner with private enterprise to achieve sustainable social development. Governments also need to be more adaptable to changing demands and learn to evolve more rapidly, to respond to competition and technological change, in the same way as business.

Africa is more welcoming of global trade. As a predominantly developing continent, many African countries experience ‘tailwinds’ rather than ‘headwinds’ in global trade –trading standards and access to technology reaps dividends, encouraging inward investment and development. Trade between Africa and the EU and China has risen dramatically in the past two decades (from $100 billion in 2000 to $300 billion in 2015 with the EU, and from $10 billion in 2000 to $200 billion with China). Africa has successfully diversified its markets and can now consistently export goods. This new wealth is being turned in to assets for the next generation – the largest demographic in Africa being the under 25s – and means Africa can export more value to the EU.

However, African growth is hampered by a lack of available infrastructure and access to energy. Moreover, if there are to be global product standards, Africa may find it difficult to agree on who sets standards which are practical to meet, given its limited infrastructure. The role for the state therefore is to invest not just in energy infrastructure, but in IT systems that can be utilized for e-commerce.

China is looking for ‘win/win’ deals; it is a mistake to see the world in ‘zero sum’ terms. Trade between China and Africa has grown rapidly under the ‘win/win’ approach, as has trade between China and the US, but this kind of cooperation is new and not yet fully understood or accepted in all political circles. If you view the world as ‘zero sum’, war becomes a very powerful tool to protect a nation’s interests, but this ultimately leads to the sustained and difficult situations such as in the Middle East and North Africa. Each time a nation misreads the new system it becomes expensive. Vested interests that profit from such conflicts should not be underestimated and a fundamental change in approach is needed to drive these out.

China is wary of a double standard in international rules. China is frustrated by criticism over its actions in the South China Sea when it sees smaller neighbours get away with the same actions uncontested. Similarly, it is criticized for not providing global public goods but then criticized when setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for ‘circumventing’ the international system. Contrast European colonialism or the US ‘global policeman’ role with occupying a few reefs.

Session video