In The Wake of Globalisation, Governments Should Address Anxiety of Workers and Businesses Should Look Beyond “Tokenism”

November 25, 20161:51 pm97 views

With the onset of globalisation and the world falling apart into fragmented trading blocs, it is important for countries across the globe to manage the stresses that come with it.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said governments will have to work together to reduce anxieties of workers and businesses must do their part by exercising moral obligation and going beyond tokenism. It is beyond donating millions to charity or installing solar panels on the rooftop of buildings.

Businesses across the globe should ask themselves basic questions such as whether they treat their employees fairly, if they exploit the vulnerable and less fortunate, whether they harm the environment and compromise on consumer welfare and society, when it comes to selling their products and services.

If countries fail to manage the fallout of globalisation, there are higher geopolitical risks almost everywhere and businesses must do more to prevent the erosion of public trust from institutions, Wong stressed at Responsible Business Forum held at Marina Bay Sands.

Addressing an audience of over 750 sustainability and business delegates, Wong said there are several factors fuelling discontent with globalisation and provoking nationalist and protectionist sentiments worldwide, Today Online reports.

The economies across the globe have reported sluggish growth, post recession in 2008. While central banks have tried easing monetary policies, however they have not been able to stimulate demand. In a way, the flush of global liquidity has made things worse by distorting asset valuations and contributing to unsustainable capital flows. Rapid advancements in technology and the change witnessed has threatened livelihood and industries.

The broader middle class is not feeling that their lives have improved, incomes are stagnated and countries are facing job losses and high unemployment. Yet an “open globalised” system has facilitated free movement of goods and capital as well as economic interdependence. The current system though is far from perfect, can countries work towards improving the same, the question remains.

Governments need to address the anxiety of workers and be honest about what practical intervention the state can or cannot achieve. It is easy to spell populist measures that sound good, but they may set up xenophobic sentiments in societies and cause more harm.

It is important for governments to make regulations more effective and mitigate market failures, but do not stifle innovation. “It’s not just about more regulation or more complex regulation — that may simply lead to the rules being gamed in more complex and unpredictable ways.”

United Nations Environment Programme executive director Erik Solheim said, “Companies on the stock exchange should disclose their environmental risk alongside their financial risk. Sustainable development needs to be conveyed in understandable language, focusing on issues people can “feel and breathe.”