President of US-China Business Council explains impact of coronavirus, trade war at Duke summit



Chris Kuo | Duke Chronicle

What happens when you bring a former rock band guitarist together with a former U.S. ambassador?

Duke’s China-U.S. summit did just that, organizing a spotlight conversation Feb. 29 between Kaiser Kuo, former member of the rock band Tang Dynasty and current host of the Sinica Podcast, and Craig B. Allen, former U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam and current President of the U.S.-China Business Council. In a live recording of a Sinica episode, Kuo interviewed Allen regarding recent developments in the global economy and U.S.-China trade relations.

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has wreaked havoc in China and has begun to infect other parts of the globe, loomed large over the conversation. Allen acknowledged the unpredictability of the virus’s long-term effect on the global economy.

“I don’t know what will happen in Korea. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Nigeria. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “This is not only a China issue anymore.”

The speakers also examined the current economic impact of the global pandemic on both the demand and supply sides of the international market. On the demand side, the coronavirus has dampened confidence and stifled demand, particularly in the tourism and retail sectors.

According to Allen, the coronavirus has also disrupted the supply chain for many companies, causing warehouse closures, borders tightening and more red tape for businesses wanting to reopen.

Commenting on the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus’s arrival on U.S. soil, Allen urged caution given the complexity of dealing with such a novel threat. He paraphrased a line from the ancient Chinese military handbook, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu: “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you’ll win a hundred battles.”

In our fight against the coronavirus, “we don’t know the enemy,” he said.

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