Talking Point 

Schroders' Wade optimistic on end to trade war

 

The China/US trade war has had a huge impact on the the global economy, according to Keith Wade, chief economist at Schroders.

 

Mr Wade said: "When the tariffs came in, we saw quite a sharp fall in trade, and economic activity has been weak ever since, and it's still weak, and global exports have slowed down enormously."

He added that the trade war has also had an effect on the US economy as American companies see the rising costs of imports.

"The other effect we're seeing, which is much harder to quantify, is the uncertainty. Businesses have put their plans on hold for expansion because they don't know exactly what the trade rules are going to be."

In fact it is very similar to what is going on with the UK experience of Brexit, he said, with "capital expenditure being very sluggish", as people are very slow at making big decisions.

But Mr Wade was optimistic about there being a fruitful outcome from the talks, although they have been delayed. 

Mr Wade said: "We believe there will be a deal, and it's mainly because Trump needs a deal. He's looking for re-election in 2020, and there's not an awful lot he can do to stimulate the economy any more.

"The last thing that Trump wants to do is for the talks to fail and he has to increase the tariffs up to 25 per cent, and put more tariffs on Chinese goods, and if he doesn't that's going to extend to a lot of consumer goods, and people will notice that."

A consequence of that might be that the Federal Reserve might see a challenging economic environment and take action as a consequence.

Also, for China, it is also important to get a deal, as it is exposed to global trade.

Mr Wade said: "We estimated last year, that the tariffs could take 1 per cent off Chinese GDP. I still think, even if it takes longer, we'll actually eventually get to a deal."

In many ways, said Mr Wade, Trump was just "playing to his audience", but it was also about "accommodating China into the world economy".

As China becomes a more established player in the world economy, so successive presidents have tried to deal with it, notably president Obama.

"Trump may be making some progress with this," Mr Wade said.