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Each year, students and graduates of NEOMA Business School’s MBA and Executive MBA programmes are invited to a conference on a hot topic. This year, a number of experts, professors and managers were invited to share their vision on the development of the global economy in the face of growing protectionism.

Last February 2, 90 participants arranged to come along to the NEOMA BS Paris campus for VIP Day. Students and graduates from the EMBA and MBA programmes were in attendance. For this latest event, the day's talks and discussions focused on the theme of world growth and protectionism.

After an introductory address by Jérôme COUTURIER, Head of Professional Graduate Programmes & Executive Education, Charles WALDMAN, Academic Director of the Global Executive MBA, spoke about some of the concerns surrounding these issues. “Protectionism is growing at an alarming rate around the world: 489 new protectionist measures were introduced around the world in 2017. Of these, 90 were in the United States. Quotas, higher import taxes,... Does protectionism cause more harm than good? Are the costs of protectionism greater than the benefits? By making international trade more difficult, has protectionism caused it to slow and, as a consequence, caused the global economy to slow too?” In order to provide an answer to these questions, several internationally renowned speakers expressed their point of view on the issues. Arnold MIGAN, founder of HUG and an EMBA alumni, set the tone for the day by setting moments aside to take a deep breath and appreciate the moment.
The First speaker of the day: Pierre Jacquet, President of the Global Development Network (GDN) and former Chief Economist of the French Development Agency (AFD). The main theme of his talk: Is globalization losing ground? “On some aspects, one would be tempted to say yes... But, fundamentally, certain forces are still very much in place: free trade, although slightly eroding, remains lively; global information flows are constantly increasing; common concerns, such as the supply chain, require global action. Although trade is becoming more and more local and regional, these global dimensions remain predominant.

A specific focus on the US and UK economies
In the afternoon, Jonathan Story, Professor Emeritus of International Political Economy at INSEAD, spoke about Brexit and its impact. “I believe this whole situation is due to three main factors within the UK: the weakening of the Labour Party, an ever-increasing rate of immigration to Britain and, finally, the 2008 economic crisis. Add to this two very different conceptions of Europe: on the one hand, the cooperation of independent states in their decision-making and, on the other hand, the creation of a supranational state that can decide in the place of governments. The result is an inextricable situation in which the English are tempted to cut off all binding relations with Europe, to strengthen their link with Uncle Sam, and thereby maintain their cherished political autonomy.”
To conclude the day, Frédéric Pierucci, President of Ikarian, a consulting firm specialising in recommendations to companies on how to deal with laws and regulations concerning corruption, protectionism and competitive practices, provided a specific insight into American practices in these fields. He gave a moving account of a painful past experience (imprisonment in a maximum security prison) while working for Alstom. A victim of American protectionism, outside the United States, he now denounces a complete system that is designed to protect the entire American economy.
This is how we find ourselves trapped in a large-scale system, far from the temptation of a global economy. Many European companies have fallen victim to this and the American Department of Justice has all the ammunition it needs to exploit your slightest weakness.” A story he was keen to share in his book Le piège américain (The American Trap), published in January 2019.

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