Speaker Series: Akshay Mathur - Introduction to Geoeconomics
On the 22nd of October 2021, Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics (MDAE) hosted Akshay Mathur, Director of Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Mumbai and the head of the Geoeconomics Studies Programme across all ORF centres. The topic this week was an introduction to Geoeconomics.
About the speaker:
Within the aforementioned roles, Mr. Mathur’s research focuses on issues of economic diplomacy, international financial architecture, global trading system, international monetary system, global economic governance, multilateral financial institutions, economic statecraft.
He regularly contributes to the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), based in Waterloo, Canada, with research on global economic and digital governance issues as a Senior Fellow. Mr. Mathur is also a member of the Taskforce on the Indo-Pacific at the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi.
Key discussions during the session:
What is geoeconomics?
It is the study of economic diplomacy and economic instruments and institutions in the pursuit of strategic objectives. It is also the use of strategic, diplomatic and foreign policy to achieve economic objectives.
The session started with Mr. Mathur hoping to give enough vignettes of geoeconomics so as to pique further interest in the audience members.
To study and understand geoeconomics, it is essential to know the basics of economics, finance, business, trade.
Why? Because the domain of geoeconomics is as follows:
- Economic Multilateralism
- Multilateral Trading System
- International Financial Architecture
- International Monetary System
- Global Business
Mr. Mathur gave a lowdown on multilateralism, minilateralism and plurilateralism via examples of organisations like the G20, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Being a part of the G20 summit 2021 that happened in India, he was able to give the audience a deep insight into the functioning and objectives along with critique of the organisation.
Insight was shared on how the Global Trading Systems play a role in the study of geoeconomics. ORF looks at the WTO Dispute Resolution Study especially, to understand the disputes and the following resolutions carried out in global trade.
As an example, Mr. Mathur offered insight into the US-China trade war from a few years ago and how studying the supply chain is important to know what the trade interdependence and war is about.
Global Financial Systems were discussed with a brief intro to the Financial Stability Board, Financial Action Task Force, and the Bank For International Settlements. An important note that was shared was that the world is looking at international bodies that cater to global financial regulations, global banking regulations, and derivatives and commodities.
One of the most important things that falls under geoeconomics is the International Monetary System. The field looks at the role of the US dollar, Chinese renminbi, and the Euro and its implications on the world economy.
Simultaneously, the Global Financial Centres, NASDAQ, NSE, and the likes, are the market makers.
In a similar way, Global Business, too, is an important aspect of geoeconomics. Considering business has become truly international in the last few decades to the point that foreign firms account for 50% of China’s exports, 40% of it to North America and Europe, and that MNCs from developed economies invested $917 billion abroad.
The last part of the session was a QnA with the audience members wherein students of MDAE asked questions to Mr. Mathur and he promptly answered them.
The next session in the Speaker Series will be conducted on the 29th of October 2021, at 5 PM. The topic of the session is How to Successfully Scale Digital Innovation to Drive Growth
and will be conducted by Raghav Narsalay
, MD, Accenture.
Further reading on geoeconomics:
Books recommended by Mr. Mathur to understand geoeconomics and geopolitics:
State Capitalism by Joshua Kurlantzick
War by Other Means by Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris
The Battle of Bretton Woods by Benn Steil
The New Global Rulers by Tim Buthe and Walter Mattli
Watch the recording of the session: