DUBAI: The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting of the Global Future Councils (GFC) began in Dubai on Sunday, with globalization being the main theme tackled at this year’s seminar.
“The rise of populism, protectionism and nationalism have short-term benefits,” but history has shown they have “a detrimental impact,” Australian MP and former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said at the opening plenary.
“How many times does history have to show us what industry subsidization does, or what protectionism and closing markets does, or what unaffordable support for welfare state does to a nation?” she asked.
The UAE’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Al-Gergawi gave the opening remarks at the event, saying the world now has four priorities: Collaboration and participation, new regulations, government productivity and staying open to globalization.
“Without globalization, we wouldn’t have seen the emergence of multitrillion-dollar corporations like Apple and Amazon that succeeded due to no states shutting its doors,” he said.
The opening panel, titled “Globalization 4.0,” included Bishop, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, Argentina’s former Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, William Burns, and a visiting professor and fellow at Japan’s Musashino Institute for Global Affairs, Yoriko Kawaguchi. The panel was moderated by CNBC anchor and reporter Hadley Gamble.
Kawaguchi said several rapid changes are coming, such as technology that will need constant collaboration among countries.
“Technology is very important, and that will bring in many unknown challenges,” she added.
“To cope with some of these challenges, we’ll have to exchange our views, we’ll have to exchange our knowledge, we have to exchange our policies to deal with them, and we need to cooperate.”
Malcorra said while cooperation among states is important, the core of the problem lies with citizen representation and trust in their leadership.
“At the heart of what we’re facing here is the fact that the common citizen doesn’t feel… represented well enough by institutions, be they national or international,” she added.
“And there’s a break, in my view, in the social (contract) between citizens and their leadership.”
Lajcak said: “The link between leadership and citizens needs to be strengthened, and the communication has to run both ways.”
Burns said leaderships today need to understand the “very real anxieties that have driven the kind of anti-globalization atmosphere.”
Malcorra said countries need to adopt a “We First” model, taking a jab at US President Donald Trump’s slogan “America First.”
The two-day WEF conference is attended by more than 600 members of government, academia, civil society and business, as well as other fields.
It will address global, regional and geopolitical issues, and explore topics related to the “fourth industrial revolution.”
Most of the sessions will be off the record and not attended by the media. The event is a warm up to the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos in 2019.
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