Populism and Trade

Louise Curran, Jappe Eckhardt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the strategic responses of trade dependent firms (TDFs) to growing populism and trade protectionism, focusing on the EU business elite over the period 2016–2020. It firstly highlights the threats posed to TDFs by several protectionist shifts (primarily Brexit, US protectionism under the Trump administration and its threat to the WTO). It then explores their strategic responses in the EU, mobilizing interviews with policy makers and trade associations in sectors which are highly dependent on trade. It finds that, overall, the mobilization of EU business elites was relatively low profile. In most cases, firms relied on their associations to lobby on their behalf. Although, in the case of Brexit, a very clear and present threat, these associations created quite extensive coalitions, including with civil society, individual company mobilization was still relatively limited. In the case of the more generic threats we explored, although associations were very active, individual TDFs were not. Interviewees attributed this passivity to concerns about reputation effects from supporting a controversial issue (free trade), limited understanding of the extent of the threat, and lack of capacity in many smaller companies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Business and Populism
Subtitle of host publicationThe Odd Couple?
Editors Magnus Feldmann, Glenn Morgan
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780191915376
ISBN (Print) 9780192894335
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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