2018 Global Outlook: World trade

Container terminal at Ningbo City, China
China’s expansion strategy is the most pressing issue for world trade in 2018 (source: dpa)
  • Global trade has shrugged off fears of slower growth and rising protectionism
  • A bigger concern is how to respond to China’s commercial expansion in Asia
  • The West’s main options are to work with China or pursue unfettered free trade

The world trade figures for 2017 are rather encouraging, and 2018 could be even better. Uncertainty will recede, the American threat to steer the world toward protectionism has proven empty, and the Chinese economy will not crash and burn, spreading terror among policymakers.

Even so, there will be little room for a wait-and-see approach to trade matters. The major issue on the table is China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 and now well under way. Its declared purpose is to create a privileged trade zone in Asia, which would enhance growth in the entire continent

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