Beyond the rhetoric

rethink sustainability

Beyond the rhetoric

LOcom_AuthorsLO-POD.png   Patrick Odier
Senior Managing Partner

Jack Ma’s comments yesterday struck an interesting chord. Ma, who is Executive Chairman of Alibaba said: “If trade stops, war starts.”

I think we are some way off this eventuality, but it is worth considering whether we have arrived at a tipping point between protectionism and inclusivism.

What is clear is that if there is no trade, there is no growth.                                                                           

At this point, the prevailing language in governmental trade discussions is protectionism, even though everyone recognises this is the wrong global approach. That said, I don’t think we have reached an inflection point in either direction yet.

Ultimately it all boils down to how responsible political and economic leaders are in terms of including populations in their ambitions for globalisation and growth.

Growth should be an outcome of policy action, rather than an objective.                                                                   

It all starts with whether the benefits of globalisation can be explained effectively to those in the population who are, by definition, not included (yet…). If that can be done, it could help to create a unified voice across regions, and within political and economic ranks in a way that creates the kind of fair outcomes for society that lead to inclusive growth. In doing so, the pressures towards protectionism can be fought.

If the benefits of globalisation cannot be clearly explained, then we end up in a situation where individual stakeholders publically defend their own interest.

This could create uncertainty around their exact intentions. If this is the outcome, it could prove to be a trigger for additional protectionism, which will exacerbate, rather than solve, the fractures we see in the world today.

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