Cameron speaking during WTTC Global Summit’s keynote address Globalisation hasn’t had its day despite a year of complete, unexpected transformation that saw Britain vote for Brexit, Americans for Trump, but there are a few decisions to get right to stop its decline in its track, says former UK Prime Minister David Cameron who keynoted this year’s WTTC Summit which ended yesterday.
The world leader offered his perspective on three major corrections, the first to understand and address the current unease about globalisation.
Cameron speaking during WTTC Global Summit’s keynote address
“Do I think Brexit and Trump are proof that globalisation is irredeemably failed and will go into the reverse? No. The benefits of globalisation – the freedom to trade, to invest across borders, to share technological advances, to travel – these benefits are still plain to see,” he see.
But the economic effect of globalisation has left some people behind. “The rising tide has not lifted all boats, so we have to accept we can’t go on with people working harder and harder but finding the middle class lifestyle they aspire to is further and further away. And we can’t go on with companies trading across the world making vast profits but not paying proper taxes.
“We have to realise that this anti global sentiment isn’t just about the economy, but cultural issues too. In a lot of countries, mine included, the pace of immigration has been too fast, and people have felt a lack of control over that change. They are not being unreasonable.”
Added Cameron: “So two things to achieve here: to continue to enable people to trade, travel, experience new places and enjoy the world and, second, to ensure people are not able to go where they are not allowed to or stay somewhere long after they have meant to have gone home. So it does mean proper border control but, even more important, better technology when it comes to borders and enforcement, ie, clicks as well as bricks. Building walls not going to work. It’s vital to you we get this right.
“I understand that cheaper, more accessible visas, as well as visa-free travel where possible helps tourism. i recognise that and I took steps to help streamline the process as prime minister. But your industry has to understand the vast pressure governments are under to deal with illegal immigration and the rest of it. In a world transformed, one of the biggest issues is how to deal with the new attitudes towards free economies and movements. And the smartest thing we can do is to make sure businesses and governments, particularly your businesses, work together to preserve the benefits of globalisation. Take one example, why aren’t more countries using biometric data, and crucially, why aren’t more countries accepting each other’s biometric data when it comes overstaying? This is something governments should do and your industry can help (lobby).”
The second thing to get right is values – rule of law, open and free markets that have opened the world to travel, trade and tourism, he said.
“But today there’s a new argument some are making that I don’t think we should ignore, that you can somehow combine all the advantages of calling yourself a democracy, while having autocratic rulers that claim to be better at getting things done. We know (their) science – get rid of the independent institutions, of checks and balances, blame others for your country’s problems, use foreign policy not as a way to advance your country’s interest but as a way of satisfying your electorate, spin current issues as justification for shutting out the world. I don’t believe for a minute these systems will achieve longterm success…Corruption, cronyism, the lack of a genuine rule of law; these things aren’t just bad for human rights, they lead to bad governments. They are bad for business,” he said.
The third, which he described as “the biggest threat to our world and your industry” is the threat of extremism.
“The effect on tourism can be absolutely devastating. We must be clear this isn’t a byproduct of terrorists, it’s what they want to achieve, to plunge us into a sort of medieval world and oppression, to shut down travel and tourism. Of course defeating this extremism will include robust actions, sometimes military, but more than that it requires clear thought and understanding. It’s an area beset by wooly and weak thinking by both left and right. That Islamist terror is predominantly caused by poverty? No, many of them have come from comfortable middle class background. That it’s driven by reaction to Western policy? No, 9/11 happened before the invasion of Iraq and since when is foreign policy justification for murder? That only if we left them alone the terrorism will end? No, terror has claimed the lives of people from almost every country – east, west, north and south, ally and enemy.”
He added: “Some argue we shouldn’t emphasise the connection between the terrorism and the Islamism, as if the fact that all of the terrorists self identified as Islamists and quote verses of scripture before committing horrific acts is somehow irrelevant. Now of course Islam is a religion of peace, practised peacefully by over a billion people across our globe but Islamism in its extreme form is being used as a justification for slaughter. The fact is, we have to recognise what is really happening here. These terrorists and their apologists are trying to hijack a great religion and twist and pervert it for their own ends. We must not play into their hands.
“That to me is the biggest problem with president Trump’s travel ban. It would and could be seen as labelling whole countries as extreme and dangerous because they were predominantly Islamic. It’s not a clash between civilisations that we face; that’s what the extremists want us to think. This is if you like a war within Islam. Our job is to take the side of the moderates and defeat the extremists, not to combine them into one block. And we all must play our part in defeating it.
“So my plea to you and your industry is to work with the politicians to confound this scourge. Your industry has a huge amount to lose if we get this wrong and a lot to gain if we get this right.”