Global trade policy is shifting and undergoing a major transformation. A battle continues to be fought to balance national interests (fish, semiconductors) with multilateral cooperation and alliances; climate change and sustainability priorities are driving global players to question how they will have a lasting impact; and the speed of recovery from COVID-19 may decide the winners and losers.

In the context of a new US Administration, an end to the formal Brexit process, the transatlantic struggle over the future direction of relations with China, and ahead of G7 and COP26 in the UK, we have brought together a panel of leading trade experts to walk us through the forces that shape and could define the geopolitics of trade for years to come.

Building back better?

Both President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson have emphasised the need to ‘build back better’ and shape the post-COVID19 recovery to create better safeguards for people’s health and develop better resilience against future pandemics. How do we improve the security of our critical supply chains while remaining open to trade and for business? How can trade policy help public health policy, and what can the G7 meeting achieve in this regard?

Global Britain: From TCA to CPTPP

After an end of the Transition Period marked by intense negotiations over regulatory alignment and fisheries, Britain is now charting an independent trade and regulatory policy. It is negotiating and signing new trade agreements at a rapid pace and looking to establish itself as a global free trade champion. What does the future hold for Global Britain: will it be squeezed by larger players – the EU, China, the US – or can it carve out an entirely new role?

Reforming the WTO: a hopeless cause?

The new WTO DG, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has the unenviable task of leading the WTO reform efforts and restoring trust in the multilateral trading system. However, with US likely to remain as firm in its complaints during the new administration as the last one, what are the prospects for real change and improvement?