Brussels Forum 2016: Global Economic Shifts and Power Relationships

Over the past few decades, the international economy has undergone a major shift: the emerging economies’ share of global GDP has grown from 25 percent in 1980 to 40 percent today. This has started to have important political implications, including for the future of the international order. The developing world, and in particular China, is increasingly influencing global economic governance structures, seeking reforms to existing international institutions and establishing new ones, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). These global economic shifts also have political and security implications, including in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, all of which are seeing global norms tested.

At the same time, the emerging international economic order is proving politically vulnerable, including for the new arrivals. Falling commodity prices, limited global demand, and the structural slowdown of China’s economy have raised new concerns over the past year about the emerging economies’ ability to contribute to global growth, even as economies in Africa and South and Southeast Asia are showing greater promise. What do these developments and transitions mean for the international economic and political order?

Guiding Questions

  • In terms of both economic and political power, are we set for a post-Western world? Or do the vulnerabilities of the emerging economies suggest a different kind of international order?
  • What are the implications of new institutions such as the AIIB — and demands for greater representation in existing institutions such as the IMF and World Bank — for global governance?
  • How can complications arising from further global economic integration, the preservation of a liberal order, and concerns about national sovereignty be resolved? How is economic globalization being tested by the constraints and challenges posed by political globalization?

Dr. Karim El Aynaoui, Managing Director, OCP Policy Center
Amb. Masafumi Ishii, Ambassador to Belgium and Representative of the Government of Japan to NATO
Mr. Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus, Jacques Delors Institute
Dr. James Steinberg, Dean, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs Syracuse University
Moderator: Mr. Peter Spiegel, Brussels Bureau Chief, Financial Times

Read the conference transcript

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