The New Washington Consensus: Implications of U.S. Economic De-Risking from China

kutsutilaisuus · SEMINAR · 29.11.2023 15:30 - 17:00


Renewed strategic competition between the world’s two largest economies marks an end to the era of economic globalization that dominated the post-1991 era, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The long geopolitical peace of that era liberated multinational enterprises to develop a vast system of global value chains in a world where firms could be “born global.” That world was essentially declared dead in April 2023 in a sure-to-be historic address by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan; a speech that instantly became known as the “New Washington Consensus.”

The message of the New Washington Consensus acknowledges the passing of the US unipolar moment and its replacement with U.S.-China geoeconomic power balance. While the old consensus leveraged global institutions and a WTO economic rulebook, the new consensus prefers strategic alliances and geopolitical trade agreements over free trade and economic multilateralism. Finally, the new consensus confirmed the enduring nature of recent trends by lending support to the idea of “de-risking” rather than the more abrupt and arguably less sustainable notion of “decoupling.” The new focus on economic de-risking by the world’s largest economy will radically impact global trade and investment flows, as well as serve as a model for other countries.

This seminar discusses these developments. Drawing on insights from legal institutionalism, the speakers unpack economic de-risking as a “rewiring” of the legal-economic nexus and re-regulation of the market economy, away from the WTO-based liberal market economy format into a market economy grounded in geoeconomic logic.

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Naoise McDonagh

Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University

Naoise McDonagh is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Perth, Australia. He holds a PhD in economic sociology from the University of Auckland and an MA in economic geography. His research focuses on how geopolitical tensions in an era of high economic integration are transforming the world economy, including regulatory reorganization of global supply chains for national security reasons, new export control and investment screening regimes. Prior to entering academia, Dr McDonagh served two years in the Irish Defence Forces, and worked in the private sector for over half a decade. He is a former President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, South Australia, and a former research scholar at the Institute for International Trade, University of Adelaide. Dr McDonagh regularly publishes his research in international academic journals, leading policy forums and contributes to domestic and international media coverage of his research interests.

Jens Hillebrand Pohl

Visiting Research Fellow, FIIA

Jens Hillebrand Pohl is a multidisciplinary legal scholar and political scientist with over 14 years of experience in academia and practice. He is an adjunct professor at Maastricht University and the United Nations University, where he teaches and researches the intersection of law and geoeconomics, legal geography, the (geo)politicization of the legal order, and the (mis)use of the legal system as an instrument of geostrategic power. He is also a doctoral research scientist at Tampere University, where he analyzes lawfare and geo-legal power from a political science perspective. An experienced attorney, having practiced before U.S. federal and state courts in New York and for EU institutions, Jens holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a MSc in Economics and Business from Stockholm School of Economics, and is pursuing two PhDs in law and political science at Maastricht University and Tampere University, respectively. He is the founding series editor of Springer Studies in Law & Geoeconomics and a former article editor of the Harvard International Law Journal.


Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek

Visiting Research Fellow, FIIA

Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek is a Visiting Researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs at the Center on US Politics and Power. She is a Clarendon Scholar and doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, where she is researching the political economy of multi-stakeholder extraction projects. She previously earned an MPhil, with distinction, in Russian and East European Studies at Oxford. Cordelia has held researcher positions with the US Institute of Peace, the Center for European Policy Analysis, and the Polish Institute of International Affairs.