RPT-COLUMN-Choosing "champions" in a protectionist world: McGeever

From Reuters - October 12, 2017

(Repeats OCT 12 column with no changes to text)

By Jamie McGeever

LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) - If the 40-year wave of globalization is now giving way to a rising tide of protectionism, the outlook for national and regional champions is brightening.

These companies are most likely to be in sectors that enjoy explicit if not implicit government backing, and are those best positioned to increase domestic market share in a world where barriers to trade and markets are going up, not coming down.

Early signs of these trends may already be starting to emerge as the de-globalization drift deepens, with the Trump administrations America First world view sowing doubt over how global trade will evolve in the years and decades ahead.

Its almost a year since Donald Trumps shock U.S. election win. In that time he has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and chided Germany for its huge trade surplus.

And at a micro level a trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier threatens thousands of jobs at the Canadian planemaker s plant in Northern Ireland. UK prime minister Theresa May has spoken to Trump about the issue.

With Trump turning up the protectionist rhetoric, French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to make it more difficult for foreign takeovers in strategic European industries, warning European Union governments to guard against naivety in global trade.

Last month Paris and Rome said they will explore the creation of a Franco-Italian naval defence group, merging French military shipyards company Naval Group with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

Germanys Siemens and Frances Alstom also announced last month they would merge their rail businesses, creating a European champion to help counter the rise of Chinas state-owned CRRC.

Merger and acquisition data from Thomson Reuters show the value of intra- and inter-EU deals in the nine months to September jumped 68 percent to $344 billion, the highest since 2008.



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