Harding: China’s role in the global economic recovery cannot be understated, so it stands to reason that it will also play a significant role in the rate at which the region recovers in trade terms. This sounds like a truism, but because of the complexity of the way in which trade has developed through the Covid-19 pandemic, China’s importance is now not just an economic one, it is a strategic one as well.
At the beginning of 2020, there was considerable optimism about the prospects for world trade. A modest trade deal had been signed between the US and China, and the global economy appeared to be heading towards a resumption of growth as the uncertainties around the US-China trade war eased. The sustained threat of tariffs through 2019 meant that supply chains had the potential to be diverted away from China in particular towards other regional economies like Vietnam, and trade finance professionals were, informally at least, reporting a very good 2019 as a result.
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