AP-CEO Summit JILIN September 1st 2009
“A new era for economic, political and cultural cooperation.”
We are living a thrilling, yet difficult, time. It’s unmistakably a turning point in the history of international cooperation. We just lived a year of great uncertainties. We still don’t know what the future is made of.
But one thing is sure: China definitely will have a major role in the shaping of the new economy. It’s a time of opportunities but also a time of new responsibilities. That’s why I’m particularly happy to speak here, in front of decision-makers coming from so various horizons.
Nothing is more important today than sharing points of view, revealing possible differences in our approaches of world economy and international cooperation. This summit, I’m confident, can be part of an important process of common consciousness.
International cooperation has a strong back wind, these days. The G20 in London has shown a strong will towards collective action. All great countries have made strong efforts towards a common resolution of the sources of the crisis. Still these promises are not realities yet.
That’s why I’d first like to stress how much international cooperation is still crucial today. We have an opportunity we should not miss.
Facing uncertainties and changes like few other times before, we have to invent new forms of cooperation. We have lived too long with a one-sided globalization, in which the West took the initiatives, tried to impose its will and to shape the world at its own image. This time is over, because the west has failed in some respect and because new, equally legitimate claims are arising, particularly in Asia.
This invention calls for common principles. Cooperation should not be a technique, an expertise, but a shared spirit.
1. First, cooperation is, more than ever before, a necessity in today’s world.
· Because no country has the power to decide for all anymore.
The time of hegemonies is over. At least, we have an opportunity to build up multilateral environments that could prevent the appearance of new forms of domination, by a single country or by a group of countries with common interests.
Let’s take an example: money. In the last centuries, the currencies of great powers have been the standard of worldwide exchanges. That’s what happened with the sterling pound and later with the dollar. This rule has been shaken in the last thirty years, since the balance of the Bretton Woods Agreements of 1944 was challenged by the end of the gold convertibility of the dollar. In the last thirty years currency exchange crises have multiplied, inducing social and political costs in many countries – Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, South East Asia.
But today, the predominance of the dollar may be challenged. During the G20 conference in London and later this year, emerging powers like China or Brazil have expressed their wish for a more representative and fairer common counting unit. I think this evolution, as long as it may be, is unavoidable and positive.
In all fields, we are entering a period of multipolarity, very different from the logic of opposing blocks during the cold war as well as from the period after 1990, when the United States could pretend to be the leaders of the whole world. This claim seems to be near to come to its end with the error of the war in Iraq and with the loss of economic weight facing the emerging countries, though the economic and military power of the USA is impressive.
Hegemony belongs to the past. A peaceful multipolarity calls for multilateral action concerning security, economic development or climate change. On sustainable development and urban growth control much has been done in the past years that could lead the way in other sectors. The energy and climate negotiations in Copenhagen will be an important test for the ability to find sound compromises taking into account the need for environmental protection as well as the need for development in countries of the South.
· Because in a globalized economy no country can control everything on its own territory.
The new mobility of Foreign Investments has developed an unprecedented intertwining of economic interests. The discussions on the effects of the various stimulus plans in the past year prove it. Interdependency is now the rule.
At the same time, these transfers of capitals have created a competition among states and created a new form of competitiveness, a benchmarking of state resources in the field of infrastructures, fiscal policy and political and legal stability. It’s at times a powerful incentive towards global standards of transparency and efficiency. But it’s sometimes a limitation of the sovereignty of each state and a restriction to its action. Here again, only cooperation can avoid possible instabilities and any form of dependency.
It’ll be even truer in the future, because the globalization yet to come will be linked to a new industrial revolution, transforming the forms of labor themselves. The economy of knowledge will create new types of interdependency. The core of the new economy will not be money or physical property anymore but the control, development and property of ideas, concepts, technologies. The rules of the game are changing. Cooperation is needed to favor these changes and to create common standards of intellectual property rights, licensing or technological standards.
· It’s a necessity, because we are entering a new period of globalization, defined by the return of politics and the rule of scarcity.
The economic crisis has shown the need for political and administrative regulation of economic processes. The belief in a natural rule of markets belongs to the past. The states that have resisted the shock have done so through massive state intervention, through impressive stimulus plans and through strong industrial policies.
Sovereign funds are bound to become major actors of the world’s financial circuits and, as such, of the world’s output. They will contribute to shaping the new world and must be treated as key actors of cooperation.
Scarcity of resources will define the new economic relations. We have had a foreboding of this situation with the commodities crisis in the first half of 2008. Rising oil prices, narrow reserves of all major metals or energetic resources are the arithmetic result of impressive growth rates in major emerging economies.
The diplomatic impact of this situation is already evident. Major countries try to obtain privileged access to strategic markets, in Africa for example.
A new form of international competition is gaining ground. The only way to balance the side-effects of such a competition is to establish a strong cooperation. Competition can’t be wholly avoided. It still can be domesticated to anticipate the risk of a global economic war.
Global threats are rising and they ask for a global response. They are visible in the financial sector, but we should not forget the threats to international security. Islamist terrorism still hasn’t been uprooted and the bomb attacks in Mumbai last spring have shown how much work still has to be done.
This danger can only be overcome by stronger police cooperation, by enhanced sharing of information and intelligence resources among target states.
Today, uncertainties seem to prevail. After the shockwave of last year’s financial crisis, many seem to believe the crisis is over. Or they want to believe it. It’s a real danger to think we are going back to business as usual.
It may lead to an even worse crisis in the near future.
Or it could hamper the growth in the next years and lead to a slumping global economy.
Worse, it could lead the world leaders and the public opinions to think that cooperation is not so severely needed anymore.
That’s why concrete and major steps must be achieved in the coming months. That’s why the topic of cooperation must stay on the front page. That’s why it must be thoroughly discussed, in East and West, North and South.
2. For we can’t be satisfied just by any form of cooperation. We are at a time of changes and choices.
· We need a real global governance.
After World War II, the Allies built up a form of international cooperation unheard of in the past and full of promises, the United Nations. Still they were branded by old western ways of thinking. They were to be dominated by western interests for the sake of the whole world.
That’s a major change the last decades have brought about. The end of the cold war has allowed real worldwide discussions and efforts. The powerful growth of major emerging countries, China and India, but also Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, has let new voices be heard on the international scene.
Is the situation then satisfactory a it is? In no way. The present institutions are not strong and reactive enough. We need a major shift towards a strong governance. The Security Council must be endowed with new responsibilities and new powers. It must be enlarged so as to match the world’s reality and diversity.
· We need a more balanced and fairer cooperation
The divide between north and south still is deep. It’s a source of misunderstandings and resentments that make the international dialogue more difficult. The need for a sustainable development must be recognized as a condition for sincere negotiations. For example in the coming Copenhagen round concerning energy and climate issues. Can developing countries with old and insufficient infrastructures be submitted to the same norms and standards as industrialized countries that have developed their resources for several centuries?
In regard to free-trade, the same is true, within the WTO, which explains the failure of the Doha round. There must be a development clause in every multilateral agreement. There must also be a strong commitment to public aid. The economic slowdown has hit underdeveloped countries harder than any other one, because they lacked he revenues of aid, investments, exports and transfers of their emigrants.
· We need a longer-lasting cooperation scheme.
When facing climate change and environmental issues that concern the common property and responsibility of humanity as a whole. A shift in international law as important as the definition of crimes against humanity after the horrors of World War II is necessary, so as to protect the Common Goods in the general interest of mankind. Water, pure air, biodiversity, marine resources can be managed only by compulsory and fair international legislation.
When facing pandemic diseases. The swine flu has, for now, shown a real maturation of international relations. The cooperation of the past months would have been impossible a few years ago.
3- At the heart of this cooperation I’ve been calling for, we should not look for mechanisms, methods or institutions. We should search the common principles that can be the foundations of a new order.
· We all need fairness.
Because we live in a world of high inequalities and massive poverty. Development policies have gone through a difficult period of doubt in the last decades. A new model of fair and sustainable development must act in favor of a further integration of the global economy, countering the social effects, in the North as well as in the South, induced by the recent growth. In some emerging countries the social gaps have widened.
The differences between cities and country sides have grown. They must be corrected by adequate social policies. In the North, the loss of industrial jobs, massive unemployment and the difficult reconversions of whole economic sectors or regions makes political choices no less necessary.
· We all need solidarity.
The belief in a common destiny of mankind, in a deep unity of human actions and aspirations is the condition of international cooperation. The will to dominate, the theories of racial supremacy or of religious intolerance are still fierce enemies.
Great local crisis show the ability of the international community to gather its forces to find answers to immediate difficulties. But we should learn to face larger crises with the same determination, for example the food crisis of 2008, which may happen again in the near future.
· Last of all, we need independence.
Any form of world government compelling each of its member states to a uniform behavior or thought would fail. The freedom of each nation to choose its destiny remains the cornerstone of any international cooperation. The wish to unify and align all positions has led to deep misunderstandings in the last years and to the feeling that there was a struggle of “the West against the rest”. It must be avoided at all cost, because it’s the way to a “clash of civilizations”.
Diversity is the real wealth of nations. It’s true as well in matters of economic development, where it’s the basis of all comparative advantages in world trade, as in culture or politics. We need countries able to act as intermediaries or bridges in conflicts. We need the ties of history and the interlacing of cultures.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You must have noticed how much this topic raises my enthusiasm. I believe, when it comes to international cooperation, we are in need for strong convictions, for continuous efforts, for audacious experimentations. Today, all this is possible.
That’s why it’ll be so interesting to listen to the very diverse expertise of today’s and tomorrow’s speakers.
It can show us how all forces and actors can contribute to this very new cooperation model that is necessary, private and public actors alike, people from South and North, East and West.