b'GIANT VIEWSBY WINAND QUAEDVLIEGWORLD TRADE MAY PROFOUNDLY CHANGE; COMPANIES SHOULD THINK AHEADthe rest of the world, the rapid emergenceChina, with its state-dominated economy and spread of disruptive technologies,and unjustified claim to the privileges of and widespread discontent in our soci- a developing country. In the actual situa-eties. And actually of course anothertion, the U.S. and the EU are unilaterally challenge, slumbering for many yearssupporting the emergence of its compet-and almost disappeared from our radaritor of tomorrow. The U.S. wants China screen, demands our full attention again:or to adapt to the system, or to no longer the risk of pandemics, this time in theenjoy its benefits.form of COVID-19. The EU of late has also chosen a much The new Commission agenda istougher approach to China. It labelled shaped by a sharp awareness that everyChina a strategic rival and insists that question of substance confronting theintellectual property theft, forced trans-EU is related to the triangular relation- fer of technology, closing off markets for ship U.S.-China-EU. If the EU wants toinvestments and government procure-remain a player in the world, instead ofment, state subsidized strategic foreign becoming just a playing ball for the otherdirect investment, distortive behaviour two big actors, it has to assert itself, andof state-owned enterprises or individual very quickly. The Commission thereforeimports on a mega-scale that go largely Winand Quaedvlieg rightly characterises itself as a geopoliti- unchecked, are no longer acceptable.cal Commission. It is too early to say what will be the The re-politization of the world econ- outcome of the wrestling party of giants I n the last couple of weeks all atten- omy, and the struggle of the EU to posi- that is actually taking place in the arena tion,understandably,hasbeention itself, is most visible in the domain ofof world trade. But it is fairly certain that focused on combating the COVID-19world trade. The rules-based multilateralworld trade will profoundly change due to pandemic. But in the EU, other policiessystem shaped and led by the U.S. afterthe emergence of a deals-based approach, are also put on the rails. The Europeanthe Second World War, which shieldedthe need to become carbon neutral, the Commission has published a series oftrade from undue political interferencepush for decoupling of technology com-important strategy papers, outlining itsand brought worldwide huge benefits, ismunities, the threat of pandemics, the key policies until 2024 and even beyond:increasingly paralysed and dismantleddemand for more strategic autonomy and the social policy; the digital, data and arti- by its onetime hegemon. The U.S. hasthe resistance in society against delocal-ficial intelligence strategies; the Greendisabled the World Trade Organizationisation. The era of the stable, multilat-Deal and the climate law; the industrial,(WTO) Appellate Body, threatens toeral rules-based system guaranteed by SME and Internal Market strategies; thepull out of the Government Procurementan undisputed hegemon may have come circular economy plan. They representAgreement and to block the WTO budget,to an end. Companies should be actively a comprehensive agenda, ambitious andand dreams openly of going back to a ret- thinking ahead what consequences this highly relevant for business, embodyingrograde dispute settlement system wheremay entail. the added value which the EU intends todecisions can only be made when both provide to companies and citizens facingparties agree. All these steps affect theEditors Note: Winand Quaedvlieg the big challenges of our time.essence of the WTO. is head of the Brussels Office of the These challenges are all linkedAlthough the choice of policies ofConfederation of Netherlands Industry to four interrelated megatrends: thethe U.S. is questionable, the underlyingand Employers VNO-NCW and the re-politization of the world economy, theanalysis is not. The system of the WTO isRoyal Netherlands Association of diminishing technological lead and com- based on the market economy, and cannotSmall and Medium-sized Enterprises parative advantage of the West visvisaccommodate an economic giant likeMKB-Nederland48IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'