Why the Era of Free Trade May Be Coming to an End64

For the past two years the U.S. and other leading economies have engaged in a series of trade wars with no end in sight, and with populists gaining popularity around the world, national issues are increasingly taking precedence over the benefits of globalization.

During a trip to China last week where I was teaching a leadership course to a group of Chinese executives, I became even more aware of the depth of the differences between the world's two largest economies. And while the world eagerly awaits the meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping at this week's G20 conclave in Osaka, Japan, with hopes that these leaders can settle their differences, a resolution is highly unlikely. The issues are simply too complex and far-reaching. Far more likely is a goodwill statement with commitments to restart negotiations. Meanwhile, Chinese businesses are moving ahead more aggressively with plans for global expansion, as they build diverse trading relationships around the globe.

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