How to Survive a Trade War


Nationalism, populism and tensions over global trade and immigration are on the rise. Let’s explore the impact of increased global tensions on startups and tech, what it means to be Born Global in an age of growing nationalism, and how to survive a trade war at SXSW 2019.

Featured Speakers

Soumaya Keynes 
U.S. Economics Editor
The Economist &
Co-host, Trade Talks podcast

Usman Ahmed
Head of Global Public Policy
PayPal Inc.

Kavita Shukla
Founder & CEO

moderated by
Jake Colvin 
Executive Director
Global Innovation Forum

Why is this topic exciting, timely and relevant?

Because Born Global is clashing with economic nationalism

1. Startups and technology companies are Born Global.

Technology and an open internet have democratized access to the global marketplace and make it possible for startups and small businesses to be global from Day One.

2. Global is good for business.

Globally-engaged companies experience higher overall growth, are more likely to increase jobs and plan major capital investments, and tend to be more productive and pay higher wages.

3. But economic nationalism is on the rise.

President Trump called the European Union an economic “foe,” has threatened to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization and has suggested ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada, China and the EU are retaliating against U.S. trade moves. Staunch Brexiteers are pressing for a “hard Brexit” to move the United Kingdom firmly away from the European Union.  Countries including China are putting up new barriers to foreign technology companies.

4. These trade and immigration tensions will create problems for startups and tech.

Manufacturers may be on the front lines of the trade war, but startups and technology companies are not immune from its effects.  In the United States, tariffs are hitting everyone from manufacturers to micro-breweries, who are delaying hiring and raising the price of craft beer.  Trade tensions are worrying tech hardware and gadget startups and early-stage biotech firms.  Among these trade tensions, international air arrivals in the United States have fallen since President Trump’s travel ban took effect.  Over the long term, trade and immigration tensions threaten to slow overall global growth, which will impact the growth of startups and demand for tech. These tensions also “send a message that the US increasingly is not open for business,” and “could have an impact [on] how people look at American products and American companies.”

What to expect from “How to Survive a Trade War”

1. Get up to speed on the state of global trade and immigration tensions.
2. Understand the impact of global trade and immigration barriers on startups and technology companies and how they are adjusting their business models.
3. Explore strategies for maximizing your global impact, leveraging resources and protecting your brand in an uncertain world.

About the Global Innovation Forum

NFTC’s Global Innovation Forum connects startup and small business communities with corporations and government officials to explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging in the global marketplace. Through public forums, private workshops and online platforms, GIF elevates the opportunity that exists to be global from Day One, explores challenges to participating effectively in international markets and works to improve the public policy landscape to benefit a broad range of global innovators. GIF is a project of the National Foreign Trade Council Foundation.