The future of trade may be more in the hands of the people than government leaders expect.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump represents the latest effort by a major economy to bring jobs back home, especially in manufacturing. But analysts and executives see growth coming from a different kind of trade, one driven by technology and which should continue regardless of what politicians from the global powers are saying.
"Market forces will drive trade regardless of what politicians do," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit. "Politicians and policymakers can get in the way, as they (have) in the past."
This week Beijing pounced on news that Trump will withdraw from a U.S.-led Asia-Pacific trade deal, effectively killing it. China's President Xi Jinping wants China to take over leadership of Asia-Pacific commerce as the United States retreats.
But "the structure of trade is changing," Behravesh said. Global trade opponents' "big gripe has to do with manufacturing, which, oddly enough, is diminishing in its employment power ... not because of trade, but because of technology."
And the digital age increasingly looks like an era when more transactions between smaller parties are taking place over the internet, and it looks like a marketplace that makes more deals in data and information than in tangible goods.