Angela Merkel in the World Economic Forum - World Economic Forum official Twitter account
CAIRO – 30 January 2018: The World Economic Forum saw a reverse of the recent anti-globalisation movement by specific states, with Narendra Modi, Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau declaring their countries open for business.
The Davos forum saw many leaders coming to the rescue of globalization’s cold corpse after it had been forsaken by the international community. Defending free trade and global communication, leaders spoke about the need for integration, the importance of immigration and the ability to be stronger and better together.
In a special address on the final day of Davos, Trump spoke about putting “America first,” explaining that he would expect other leaders to put their countries first. Surprisingly, in an unexpected, Trump-scale-breaking move, he added, “America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world.”
The unexpected turn may be a move attempting to grow popularity among the America population, as well as better the economy that has suffered since Trump took office.
Still, as his usual self would say, Trump noted, “The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning. These and other predatory behaviours are distorting global markets and harming businesses and workers.”
Speaking about free trade, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke about the importance of cooperation and “helping each other out,” suggesting the need for efforts to move forward globally.
By announcing the success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions in Tokyo, Japan on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Trudeau gave the world hope for a possible move back to globalisation as well as integrated international economic practices and deals.
Trudeau explained that the agreement is now more progressive and stronger on intellectual property, culture and the automotive sector, especially for Canada, than before. “The agreement reached in Tokyo today is the right deal. Our government stood up for Canadian interests, and this agreement meets our objectives of creating and sustaining growth, prosperity and well-paying, middle-class jobs today and for generations to come.”
Partnering up with Trudeau on the issue of free trade was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who urged for joint economic cooperation between the two countries.
Pushing for globalization and free trade, Modi said, “Further growth in the global supply chain has also stopped… The solution to this worrisome situation against globalisation is not isolation.”
Some delegates saw the move to “partner up”, according to Euronews and other news agencies, as an attempt to swipe at the U.S. president. Those who have presented this view argued that the recently revealed tariffs by the U.S. on imports of solar panels and washing machines, which are dominated by Chinese and South Korean business, may be a strong motive to swipe at the president.
The decision to impose risks, according to multiple reports, carries the negative potential of slowing down clean energy growth, which will also have a negative effect on both the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the U.S., as well as slowing down the sustainable economic development of the U.S. In turn, this will lead to a slowdown in “Mak[ing] America Great Again.”
In a non-direct attack on the tariff policy, as well as the U.S. anti-globalization move, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for greater integration and more globalization. He also revealed that France will shut down all coal-fired power stations by 2021.
In a move to “make France a model in the fight against climate change,” which is one of five pillars in his plans to reform the economy, Macron has revealed that the days of coal are long gone.
“That is a huge advantage in terms of attractiveness and competitiveness. Talent will come where it is good to live. We can create a lot of jobs with such a strategy,” he stated.
After its vote to leave the European Union (EU), the U.K. was accused of drawing back from globalization and shutting its boarders. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on free trade perhaps reassured delegates, leaders and watchers that this is not the case.
May opened her speech by reminding those attending and watching that she has long believed globalization’s benefits are not felt by all and that there is an increased need for integration.
May pushed for fixing this by saying, “But I also argued that we could change this. Not by turning our backs on free trade or the global rules-based system – which together have delivered the greatest advances in prosperity we have ever known. But rather, by doubling down on them and acting to ensure that the global economy works for everyone.”
Thus, May not only aims for increased globalization, but it also seems that she is ready to involve her country in new trade deals, as they are planning their leave from the EU economically, socially and politically.
May concluded her speech by giving a plan of action for all those involved, stating, “Many leaders this week are setting out defences of globalisation, open economies, free trade and technological progress while grappling with how to ensure these operate fairly for all our countries and all our people.
“The test of leadership, however, is what action we take. I am clear about three things.
“First, the critical nature of international co-operation within the global rules-based system – for every country must support and shape the rules for free and fair trade and investment. We cannot pull in different directions.
“Second, that we have to do more to help our people in the changing global economy, to rebuild their trust in technology as a driver of progress and ensure no one is left behind as we take the next leap forwards.
“But third, above all, we have to remember that the risks and challenges we face do not outweigh the opportunities. And in seeking to refresh the rules to meet the challenges of today, we must not miss out on the prize for tomorrow.”
Last, but surely in no way least, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke about the need for global cooperation and the removal of virtual walls.
Merkel urged the international community to learn from the darkest days of history and increase multilateralism. She spoke about multilateralism’s benefits and warned against the move away from it, suggesting that the spirit that was able to rebuild Europe after the First World War and the Second World War, to also form international institutions after the latter were under threat.
“Have we actually learned the lessons of history? We haven’t really,” she said.
“We see populism on the rise; we see a polarising atmosphere and a polarising state of affairs,” Merkel added.
While tackling challenges like migration, Merkel called for cooperation, not isolation, and warned that “a polarized atmosphere will take over many countries.”