Director's Cut: Balancing free trade with national security interests

Feb 19, 2019, 03:56 PM

In this episode of Director's Cut, Stephanie Segal of CSIS joins Bruegel's Guntram Wolff and Maria Demertzis for a conversation about the tension between free trade and national security issues, and the emerging threats to multilateralism.

In a changing geopolitical order, with China on the rise, the linkage of economic and national security is more evident than ever. The boom of disruptive new technologies is accompanied by increasingly country-centric political tendencies, and the more and more antagonistic stance of the US towards the EU and China. Taken together, a unique setting emerges for dealing with pressing issues in economic security.

Stephanie Segal, deputy director and senior fellow of the CSIS Simon Chair in Political Economy, joins Bruegel director Guntram Wolff and deputy director Maria Demertzis to discuss the looming challenges.

They sketch out the approach taken by key global players to balance the continuous benefits of free trade against the need to safeguard national security interests. The new trade-restrictive measures – such as increased scrutiny over foreign direct investment – have obvious consequences for global economic growth and the rules-based multilateral trading system. The discussants elaborate on the importance of preserving multilateralism, and the role of international organisations in the process. 

For further reading, we recommend an opinion piece by Jean Pisani-Ferry where he portrays the current international economic and geopolitical order as increasingly reminiscent of chess, as well as an economic blogs review by Bowen Call on the impact of recent US mid-term elections on the world economy.