Trade Briefs

Trade policy review for 2016: is there a trump card?

Trade policy review for 2016: is there a trump card?

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15 Dec 2016

Author(s): Ron Sandrey

Several key events took place during 2016 that may collectively result in a turning point for trade liberalisation around the globe. South Africa, and perhaps more importantly Africa, will be influenced by many of these events. The objective for this paper is to outline and examine some of the key events and place a special emphasis on how they may impact on South Africa’s trade policy. This examination is however undertaken at a time of much uncertainty, with that uncertainty mostly about the trade policies that will be pursued by the incoming United States’ President in the wake of his prolific rhetoric during his election campaign.

Two of the major political events that stunned the world during 2016, were the so-called Brexit vote for the United Kingdom (UK) to exit the European Union (EU) and the election of Donald Trump to be the next United States (US) President. It is well to remember that in both cases the votes were triumphs for democracy in two of the world’s longest standing democratic countries. People voted and this was the result. Looking deeper into the underlying reasons for the outcome in each case is the generally accepted view that these were protests against the establishment and so-called ‘people power’ calling for change. These underlying causes seem to be both simplistic and complex at the same time. They are simplistic in the sense that in the UK people were worried about the economic situation in Europe and the dividing gap between the struggling south and the prosperous north and the bogey of an immigration wave, while in the US it seemed to be a vote between two candidates whom few felt much affinity towards, and a message to the establishment. Yet it is the complex under-the-surface factors that are the important ones, and these are likely to influence short to medium term policies in both countries, and of course given the role of both countries on the world stage these quickly transmit through to global implications.


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