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North Rhine-Westphalia Event Report

Forum "The Future of Trade" in Cologne


On Thursday, November 8, AmCham Germany and the Amerika Haus e.V. NRW hosted a discussion on the future of trade. Speakers of the evening were Frank van Tongeren, Head of Division, Trade and Agriculture Directorate, OECD, and Dr. Hans-Peter Klös, Head of the Research Division, German Economic Institute. The discussion was moderated by Andreas Schäfer, Head of Foreign Trade Consulting, Cologne Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In his opening statement, Frank van Tongeren pointed out that new developments in the 21th century such as digitalization have resulted in great distortion of the global trading system as we know it. Tariffs are used as tools to force countries to renegotiate. Therefore, the OECD does not approve of the current tariff situation. However, in these times it is even more important to continue to talk and find multilateral solutions.

Dr. Hans-Peter Klös made clear that the internationalization of the economic system has been tremendously important for Germany. Globalized economies have proven more to have a more successful growth trajectory. He agreed with van Tongeren that shifts in power had taken place and named demographic changes as one of the reasons.

When asked about Brexit, van Tongeren replied that these developments cause insecurities and access to the market is inhibited. Klös claimed that many companies are not prepared for the worst -case scenario yet.

One question from the audience dealt with ineffective laws to control trade. Both speakers agreed that the driving forces behind non-conformist behavior must be identified first and it is the responsibility of the WTO to communicate and to stress the benefits of free trade to make it more appealing.

The evening ended with a pleasant get-together where the audience had the chance to talk with the speakers further.

We would like to thank Lanxess AG for hosting this event.

View impressions of the evening in our event gallery. 

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