Discover how you can both protect and grow your business in an increasingly fractured world.

The Leadership Exchange series: geopolitics and the global economy

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With at least 64 countries—plus the European Union—holding elections in 2024, almost 50% of the world’s population will have an opportunity to influence the course of history.


These elections come at a time when geopolitical issues present many challenges for businesses. The knock-on consequences affect trade policies and cyber security, and directly impact operations, market stability and reputation.


Companies must understand how geopolitical tensions operate as they navigate this complex terrain. Our latest video series for C-suite executives and business leaders explores critical geopolitical issues and risk mitigation strategies to help organisations maintain resilience in an increasingly uncertain world.


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Ep. 1: The Irish Times' Pat Leahy on the year of elections.

In the first episode, PwC’s David McGee is joined by Pat Leahy, Political Editor at The Irish Times. Over 35 minutes, they discuss the ’year of elections’, covering upcoming elections in the US, UK, Ireland and EU, as well as some of the broader themes they expect to see over the course of 2024.

How could geopolitical risks impact your business?

Trade policies and tariffs

When nations engage in geopolitical conflicts, they often change trade policies and impose tariffs to gain economic leverage. These changes can increase operating costs as companies navigate new regulations.

The unpredictability of geopolitical tensions makes it hard for companies to plan long-term strategies. As a result, they must remain adaptable to rapidly changing international trade landscapes. This environment of uncertainty not only strains financial resources but also demands a significant focus on regulatory compliance, further complicating global operations.

Supply chain disruptions

Increasing tensions between nations can lead to closed borders, trade restrictions and disruption in the movement of goods. Such shifts can disrupt supply chains and force businesses to seek alternative suppliers at higher costs and with longer lead times.

The unpredictability of geopolitical conflicts makes it challenging for businesses to identify their supply needs accurately. They must therefore maintain larger inventories as a buffer, tying up capital and resources. Companies need to improve their supply chain resilience in this environment by diversifying suppliers and transportation routes to alleviate the associated risks.

Cybersecurity threats

Geopolitical tensions increase cybersecurity threats for companies as cyber-attacks by state-sponsored and politically motivated groups become more common. These tensions often lead to cyber espionage, sabotage and data theft activities that target critical infrastructure, intellectual property and sensitive corporate data. Companies operating in, or connected to, sensitive regions are at particular risk. They face sophisticated cyber threats that aim to disrupt operations, manipulate financial markets or influence political outcomes.

The complexity and scale of these cyber attacks require significant investment in cybersecurity defences. This includes advanced threat detection systems, employee training and incident response protocols. The dynamic nature of geopolitical conflicts also means that companies must continuously monitor and adapt their cybersecurity strategies to address evolving threats.

Market uncertainty

Conflicts between countries or regions can cause changes in currency values, stock market prices and consumer behaviour. Such economic volatility makes it difficult for businesses to plan for the future. Companies may hesitate to invest in expanding or buying new equipment until things become clearer.

These conflicts can also affect people’s feelings about particular products or services and, ultimately, disrupt trade. Businesses must be ready to adapt to changing conditions and take advantage of new opportunities. To do this, they may need to reallocate resources to protect against risks.

Reputational risks

Geopolitical issues pose a significant risk to the reputation of companies, especially those with a global presence. Companies can quickly become embroiled in geopolitical controversies through their operations, supply chains or partnerships. Actions that support one side of a conflict or don’t meet ethical standards can diminish stakeholder trust.

To navigate these complexities, companies must be fully aware of the geopolitical landscape and its implications for their brand. They should proactively adopt transparent communication, ethical business practices and corporate social responsibility initiatives to mitigate reputational risks.

However, the volatile nature of geopolitical issues means that companies must remain vigilant and adaptable. They need to be ready to respond to crises that could affect their reputation and long-term success.

How we can help

As a leading professional services firm, we can help our clients navigate the complexities of geopolitical issues. Leveraging our global expertise and deep industry insights, we offer tailored strategies to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. From enhancing supply chain resilience to fortifying cybersecurity defences and navigating market uncertainties, our comprehensive solutions help clients thrive in a volatile world.

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David McGee

David McGee

ESG Leader, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 86 268 1522