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Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization

The Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization is a research center based on a long-term cooperation between the Kühne Foundation and the University of Zurich. It aims to establish itself as a thought leader on issues surrounding economic globalization – by conducting relevant research and making its insights available to a broad audience.

At the core of the center is the Kühne Foundation Professorship of International Trade. It is currently held by Professor Ralph Ossa who is a leading expert on trade policy. His research spans a broad range of questions with an emphasis on the economics of trade wars and trade talks. In addition, the center is home to a number of affiliated researchers.



News and Media

The future of global trade: Trade wars, protectionism, globalization

US President Donald Trump has turned global trade relations upside down. However, globalization was already on a downward path before Trump, as a NZZ article shows. Together with three fellow economists, Ralph Ossa provides answers on the future development of trade policy in an interview with NZZ. 

In the article, Ossa points out the precarious situation of the WTO, which is currently in an existential crisis and can no longer even fulfil its core tasks. Politicians are called upon to reform the WTO as quickly as possible. Asked about the future of the Swiss economy, Ossa stresses the essential importance of trade with Switzerland’s EU neighbors: "That is why it is so important to ensure stable trade relations with the EU or at least to be aware of the enormous costs of a serious disruption," he says.

NZZ Article (in German)

The Latest Move in the Trade War

Ralph Ossa

2019-08-07: Seven yuen for one dollar: the trade conflict between the USA and China has reached a new escalation stage with the crossing of this hitherto magical boundary. Trump accuses China of currency manipulation, China rejects the accusations. An assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the Chinese tactic by Ralph Ossa in 10vor10 and SRF Tagesschau.

10 vor 10, Tagesschau (in German)

Trade agreements: Criticism should be taken seriously

2017-07-19: In an article for "Die Volkswirtschaft", Ralph Ossa explains the economic damage that would result from the collapse of the multilateral trading system. According to his calculations, in the worst case, 25 percent of trade gains could be destroyed on average – with considerably variation from country to country. Switzerland would also have to reckon with major losses: according to Ossa's calculations, real income in Switzerland would collapse by as much as 14 percent. Ossa sees three main reasons for the reorientation of American trade policy. First, the growing aversion to foreign trade among certain sections of the population, who faced major losses due to trading with China. Secondly, the frustration of US companies over the protection of their intellectual property in China and the state capitalism there, which the WTO can only control to a limited extent. And third, the apparent misperception of the Trump administration that foreign trade is a zero-sum game in which the US either wins or loses. In his article, Ossa elaborates particularly on the second reason and explains why the American-Chinese trade war is not primarily about customs policy, but about securing standards.

Read article on (in German)

Welcome Michael Blanga-Gubbay

Welcome Michael Blanga-Gubbay

2019-07-19: We welcome Michael Blanga-Gubbay as Affiliated Member at the Kühne Center. Michael is a Ph.D. Candidate in Quantitative Economics at the European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He will join the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich as a post-doc in September 2020.

We welcome Emily Blanchard as Visiting Fellow

Emily Blanchard

2019-07-12: Emily Blanchard is an Associate Professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a Research Fellow with the Center for Economic Policy Research. She will be joining the Kühne Center for Sustainable Globalization as a Visiting Fellow for the academic year 2019/20.
Professor Blanchard's research lies at the intersection of international economics and public policy.  She has written extensively on how foreign investment and global value chains are changing the role of trade agreements in the 21st century, and how globalization and education shape political and economic outcomes within and across countries.  Her research is published in leading journals, including the Review of Economic Studies, Journal of International Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and the World Trade Review, and she serves on several editorial boards.
Bringing research to practice, she has worked in collaboration with the World Trade Organization, World Bank, UNIDO, Institute for Research on Public Policy, and others.

Emily Blanchard's webpage at Dartmouth

Reasons for the Trade War

Bild Ralph Ossa

2019-05-14: The large Chinese trade surpluses are often cited as the main reason for the special tariffs imposed by the USA, and the ongoing trade dispute. In an interview with Tagesschau, Ralph Ossa points to a number of other reasons: There are valid concerns regarding the protection of intellectual property and China has a very high number of state enterprises. The granting of loans and subsidies to state-owned enterprises in China is opaque. Consequently, market-oriented countries fear that global competitive conditions are being distorted and that their businesses will not be able to compete with Chinese companies.

SRF Tagesschau ( min. 12:00)

WTO in its 25th Year

Ralph Ossa

2019-04-15: Protectionism instead of free trade, punitive tariffs instead of dismantling trade barriers. In recent years, the liberal economic order has come under pressure. These developments are also affecting the influence the World Trade Organization (WTO) has over its members. SRF Tagesschau talks to Ralph Ossa, who points to the WTO's twofold task: "On the one hand, the WTO is committed to further trade liberalization. On the other hand, and this is often forgotten, the WTO is also supposed to prevent trade wars". Ralph Ossa recalls the beginnings of the WTO, and its predecessor, the GATT: "These originated from the experience that the trade wars produce no winners. The experience of the 1930s trade war led to countries agreeing on trade treaties. It remains to be seen if today’s leaders will also learn from the current crisis and reaffirm their commitment to trade cooperation".

SRF Tagesschau