British economist weighs in on Brexit, US-China trade war, and Venezuela

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Al Arabiya English interviewed British economist and political scientist, James Alan Robinson, on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday. He discussed the economic and political consequences of Brexit, the US-China trade war, and the unpredictable situation of Venezuela.

Brexit will have negative effects in terms of economics and politics, according to Robinson. “It’s going to have extremely adverse economic consequences for Britain and probably adverse political consequences as well. It’s going to breed nationalistic, populistic politics,” he said.

When it comes to the British economy, Robinson predicts that many multinational companies will disinvest from Britain and this will influence many sectors of the economy.

However, he said the political outcome of Brexit is the most worrying.

“I’m much more concerned with the political and institutionalized consequences that will set off some chain of nationalistic, isolationist, populist politics that have the potential to be far worst to the economy,” Robinson added.

Commenting on the US-China trade war, Robinson said that “hundreds of millions of people in China have been dragged out of poverty by trade in the last forty years.”

According to Robinson, everyone benefits from trade. “So the optimistic would say that somehow President Trump is using this as a strategy to kind of get concessions from the Chinese, but the world isn’t necessarily organized in a way that is economically efficient – as we see from Brexit.”

“It’s good to remember how badly the country was run before [President Hugo] Chavez came to power. There’s a reason Chavez became president of Venezuela – that’s because it was a country with enormous poverty, inequality, corruption. It was a typical Latin American elite-controlled oligarchic society.”

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the opposition in Venezuela, Juan Guaido, and his plans. “I think it is right that President [Nicolas] Maduro is pretty illegitimate in the eyes of many Venezuelans. But whether or not this confrontation will lead to something better in Venezuela is hard to predict,” Robinson concluded.

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