2017 WORLD REVIEW SERIES
2017 has been full of ups and downs. As the year comes to a close, we are reviewing some of the main events that have marked the year. Some of these political and economic events will still continue on influencing the world in the coming year.
At the beginning of 2017, we identified three main geopolitical events that were foreseen to have a great impact on the world: Trump's Presidency, Brexit and Article 50, as well as China's economic outlook with the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. While China has been able to skillfully manage and control its economic outlook, the Brexit negotiations with the European Union by the British Prime Minister Theresa May as well as the United States (US) President Donald Trump's "America First" policies have brought about many uncertainties.
According to the latest World Economic Outlook, released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last October 2017, the global economy is strengthening and looking brighter. With a broader based economic recovery, the IMF estimates that the global growth in 2017 will increase to 3.6%, up from 3.2% and 3.4% in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
However, there are still many risks that can sap the fragile economic recovery. With the Brexit negotiations still ongoing, the full impact on the British economy and the European Union (EU) are still unknown. As for the United States (US), the trade policies of the Trump administration are becoming more and more protectionist. On top of all these, not only are the central banks of the major economies undergoing tapering of their economic stimulus, but they are also reviewing their monetary policies and hiking gradually their interest rates.
More than a year passed, since Donald Trump won the United States (US) presidential elections in November 2016. Rather than having a continuity on the American foreign policies on trade, security, climate and others, President Trump has not only been systematically rescinding and revoking policies made under the previous Obama administration, but also adopted a path that is re-positioning America's global leadership position in the world.
Some of these actions have completely taken off guard some of America's staunchest partners and allies. As a result, during the first 100 days of the Trump administration, many of these country leaders were baffled and confused by the many executive actions from Trump, so much so that they fiddled around his decisions, felt at times directionless and seriously wondered "Where the US is heading with Trump?" However during the year, many of these country leaders have come to the realisation that America under Trump is going in a completely different direction and that they can no longer fully depend on the US leadership on global issues.
In 2017, the impact of United Kingdom (UK) initiating its exit from the European Union (EU) started to be felt, particularly within the UK economy. However, Brexit will indeed have a major political, economic and social impact in the UK, Europe and the world in the years to come.
The strong and calm leadership of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was indeed valuable and influential to steer the EU through this crisis. The pro-Brexit British politicians initially believed that the result of the Brexit referendum was their mandate to start dictating their demands with the EU to break off as well as begin their trade negotiations with the various EU countries on a bilateral basis.
The wave of populism and nationalism swept through the world over the past few years. Within Europe, the rise of the Eurosceptics has divided and fragmented the European Union (EU). The Brexit referendum as well as the rise of populism within many European countries endangered the unity of the European Union. Not only the EU has to deal with the Brexit crisis, but it also has to respond accordingly so as to strengthen its unity. Otherwise, further fragmentation of the EU will eventually lead to its demise.