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Global risk exacerbated by trade wars, populism: Aon

US EU China trade wars

Lingering trade uncertainty and protectionism remain the key sources of risk, as global growth has weakened and is expected to remain slow through 2019, according to Aon PLC’s 2019 political risk map report, released Tuesday.

Trade uncertainties with China may be complicated or exacerbated by electoral politics heading into the 2020 U.S. presidential election as the two nations negotiate a trade deal against the backdrop of an overall rivalry for power, the Aon report said.

Meanwhile, “Populism is no longer a fringe issue” in Europe, according to the Aon report, and “its impact has been disruptive to the economic system, majorly affecting trade and fiscal gaps.” Such populism can bring with it opposition to free trade and globalization, the report said.

Strong government disapproval and a lack of political consensus, together with populism, “have undermined growth by hindering investment and stalling reforms,” the report said.

Oil and gas markets had a tumultuous 2018, roiled by “concerns about supply and demand … exacerbated by geopolitical events, such as Iran’s sanctions, adding to a higher price volatility,” as oil prices oscillated between $85 a barrel and $50 a barrel by the end of the year, the report said.

“The idea of ‘trade wars’ is unsettling to business leaders,” John Minor, U.S. national practice leader, political risk at Aon, said in a statement released with the report. “Uncertainty about the future of trade relationships — how contracts will be impacted, implications to supply chain and a business’s overall ability to market in certain geographies — makes business decisions much more difficult, creating potential downside exposures that companies are wise to consider.”



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