Protectionism and today’s ‘dangerous’ normal

rethink sustainability

Protectionism and today’s ‘dangerous’ normal

LOcom_AuthorsLO-POD.png   Patrick Odier
Senior Managing Partner

My first post from Davos looked at the growing contradictions we are seeing in the world today, which made me question whether we are in a ‘dangerous’ new normal or not.  I have since heard a few things here at Davos that reinforce this question in my mind. 

Switzerland is recognised as one of the most open countries when it comes to trade, but is, on the other hand, facing a lot of protectionist measures – foreign banks, including ours, are finding it difficult to access the US market, for example. And the EU’s unusually aggressive attitude towards Switzerland and the Brexit talks, are also symptomatic of the growing protectionist policy agendas.

Those who say they are the most open, are often not.                                                                               

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to trade is finding consensus among economic sectors - a unique ‘voice’ if you want. Switzerland, for example, has the potential to do this through applying technology to the agriculture sector, which is typically viewed as being low-tech, and shy, to say the least, when it comes to free trade.

Developments in genetic research, or how technology can be applied for crop management, that are being worked on in Switzerland could give us a vital edge in a more protectionist world. This could make agriculture a factor in free trade, which would contribute to the future growth of the nation.

Importantly, it is the protectionists who understand today’s new paradigm the least. We really have to ask ourselves if the world is going towards more protectionism for right or wrong reasons.

And, again, I am forced to ask myself whether our new normal is dangerously normal, or just plain old normal.


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