Press Releases
NFTC in the News
View from the Council
OECD Sends Mixed Messages at a Time of Economic Upheaval
Global e-commerce needs a boost. The WTO can help.
USTR Releases Trade Policy Agenda & Annual Report
Compete or Retreat: Keeping America Ahead in the Huawei Era
The Time for Tariff Reform Is Now
Can U.S. Business Benefit from an India Trade Deal?
The Troubled Transatlantic Relationship
U.S Political Economy After the Pandemic

U.S Political Economy After the Pandemic

April 17, 2020

U.S Political Economy After the Pandemic

How we talk about anything determines what we do about it. The pandemic is no exception. What we remember as the regular order of our daily lives will not recur until there is a vaccine available to meet global demand. Vaccine research and development by the global scientific community is proceeding apace. Presumably, upon discovery and verification, global production will follow according to a globally accepted standard.

This vaccine effort should be the example on which we model the conduct and governance of trade and commerce going forward. Expertise matters, multilateral institutions matter, clear rules of conduct matter. The failure of autarky as a matter of historical fact matters.

When the new normal dawns, companies and policymakers across sectors will be challenged to plan and implement operations insuring resilience to the greatest degree practicable. The military and intelligence (national security) and health sectors, first and foremost. Redundancy and diversity will be supply chain standards. Government regulation should incentivize best practices and target adversarial behavior.

Countries around the world will have to make a choice that, for better or worse, will guide their behavior for years to come. Do they turn inward, protect domestic industry, enact tariffs and prepare for another wave - or the next crisis - alone? Or do they turn to the world, cooperate and ensure that when the next crisis comes, they - and their neighbors - will be better prepared than they were this time around.

The world was already facing a wave of nationalism that had not been seen in decades based largely on the idea that trade and globalization harm domestic industries and offshore jobs. But the reality is that trade and an open and coordinated multilateral system that supports international supply chains and encourages global cooperation is the only way countries around the world will be able to beat this disease and to be ready for the next one.

Without doubt, how we lived before the pandemic will be altered by the experience of the pandemic in ways and degrees now only speculative. The countries that remain open, innovative, and connected will endure and prevail.

Our political system after World War II yielded policies and practices that benefited us domestically and geo-politically. Open markets and open societies demonstrably succeeded. We can do no less than learn from our own history.

-- Richard Sawaya, Vice President, NFTC