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ne potential casualty of the

populist shift is global,

'win-win' trade deals.

President Trump's 'America First'

agenda casts trade as a zero-sum

game in which the US will succeed

at the expense of others; he believes

that bilateral negotiations will allow

him to use his skills to get a better

deal for America.

This stance is recasting the established international

order - he has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific

Partnership (which promised to dismantle trade

barriers with Asia) paving the way for China to

exert greater authority in the region.

Next up could be the EU-US Transatlantic Trade

and Investment Partnership (which his trade team

has declared 'finished'), while he has also pledged

to renegotiate NAFTA. The future of the Trade in

Services Agreement - which covers 70 per cent of

the world market - is equally uncertain, though it

holds fewer direct consequences for blue-collar jobs.

And his decision to hand China hawk Peter Navarro

and Robert Lighthizer - a prominent advocate of

protectionism - key roles on his trade team is further

evidence that the world's biggest economy intends

to do things its own way from now on.

The changing mood is not confined to the US.

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade

Agreement (CETA) only just survived a tussle with

Wallonia after its parliament raised concerns that the

deal would erode labour, environmental and consumer

safeguards. The ECJ advocate general's argument that

the forthcoming EU-Singapore trade agreement should

be ratified by national parliaments rather than the

EU's institutions means such challenges are likely

to be more common from now on.

The influence of politics is extending into M&A

activity. Even in China, whose president recently

pledged to uphold global trade and investment,

the ruling party has introduced measures to curb

domestic companies' outbound acquisitions in a bid

to control capital flight. Governments across the

world are expected to take a more direct role in

antitrust enforcement and public interest review in

certain strategic or sensitive sectors, including those

In times of rising

prosperity, people

are more optimistic

and can better

tolerate rapid change. O


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