The Changing Landscape Of International Trade

Find out how 2016 certainly proved to be a year of unexpected - some would say unprecedented - political change.



Moving lights in city | Atradius



Indeed, many experts were left with proverbial 'egg on their faces' as a result of 2016.  And now, as the dust still resolutely refuses to settle, what do the upheavals in advanced markets like the US and Europe mean for future international trade?

Economic Point of View

Other issues aside, from an economic point of view there are parallels between the election of Donald Trump as US President and Brexit: the UK's decision to leave the EU.  Both resulted largely from a groundswell among many in the poorest sections of society who felt that their problems were being ignored by the political establishment. While much of the campaigning on both sides of the Atlantic was built on claims that in truth will be unworkable, in political terms 'we are where we are' and the fear now among many, not just in the US and UK but in their current trading partners too, is of isolationism and, in the case of the US, protectionism.

Emerging Markets

Certainly, emerging markets that currently have strong trade links with the US, such as Mexico, stand to lose out to Trump's agenda, while he has now fulfilled his campaign pledge to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), effectively derailing the vision of close cooperation and free trade among the 12 states concerned.

However the fundamentals of many emerging markets remain reasonably strong, helped by the gradual rise in commodity prices. In fact, at the time of writing, we do seem to be seeing more volatility and nervousness surrounding advanced economies than most emerging markets.

UK's EU Referendum

The impact, on both itself and its trading partners, of the UK's withdrawal from the EU remains to be seen. The noises emanating from the UK Government resound with confidence that it can create mutually beneficial trade deals with countries outside the EU, and indeed non-EU companies like Nissan continue to invest in the UK. Other EU members, perhaps not wholly satisfied with their lot, will no doubt be following the ramifications of Brexit with interest.

One key bone of contention that surfaced during both the US presidential campaign and the UK's EU referendum was that of Protectionism versus Globalisation: and that is an eternal dilemma. A national government will always try to appease its citizens who feel that their jobs and businesses are threatened by foreign competition, by creating some form of competitive advantage for its domestic industries. But international trade on a global scale is here to stay, as each nation puts on offer the goods, skills, know-how and resources that other nations value - and we are all the richer for that. So what we can predict with at least some confidence is that a hybrid of protectionism and free trade will remain the normal pattern of international trade.

All content on this page is subject to our Disclaimer, available here.

Related documents

Related content

Credit to Cash Briefings

The Atradius Credit-to-Cash Briefings offer free business guidance designed to support you as you manage the day-to-day operation of your business. They include useful checklists.

Risk map

The Risk Map gives an overview of the level of risk associated with countries worldwide. Risk ratings are based on a variety of political and economic factors gathered by our Economic Research Team.

Export practice

Our Export Practice Publications detail potential risks and barriers to trade that can face businesses seeking to export to new markets, and provides practical tips and guidance on overcoming them.


Each publication available on or from our websites, such as, but not limited to webpages, reports, articles, publications, tips and helpful content, trading briefs, infographics, videos (each a “Publication”) is provided for information purposes only and is not intended as a recommendation or advice as to particular transactions, investments or strategies in any way to any reader. Readers must make their own independent decisions, commercial or otherwise, regarding the information provided. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in any Publication has been obtained from reliable sources, Atradius is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in any Publication is provided ’as is’, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from its use, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. In no event will Atradius, its related partnerships or corporations, or the partners, agents or employees thereof, be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information in any Publication, or for any loss of opportunity, loss of profit, loss of production, loss of business or indirect losses, special or similar damages of any kind, even if advised of the possibility of such losses or damages.