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A Conversation on Free Trade and Globalization

March 5, 2018

Brian Mikkelsen, Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs
Moderated by Dean Vali Nasr 

Free trade and globalization were the topics in focus as the school hosted Danish Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs Brian Mikkelsen at the Washington, DC campus.

Mikkelsen emphasized the close relationship Denmark has had with the US for many years. For centuries, the legacy of the Danish people has been trade, he said, noting that half of the jobs in the Danish economy are in export sectors. Trade will continue to define Danes' future, he said.

Quoting former US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Mikkelsen explained "Trade barriers are also barriers to lasting peace." Free trade is a bedrock of international relations and it has lifted millions of people out of poverty worldwide, he said. Because the European Union is built on free markets and free trade, Mikkelsen is concerned to see rising skepticism of free trade in Europe, illustrated by Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Commenting on the recent decision of US President Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, Mikkelsen said this action will have negative consequences for Americans and Europeans as it could lead to a trade war. Europe may respond by imposing tariffs on US commodities, however, he said that a trade war should be prevented if possible.

Finally, Mikkelsen noted that despite their challenges, Denmark has a respectful relationship with US administrations and that he has close friendships with his US counterparts, although good friends can also disagree on politics.

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