Lead­ers must re­al­ize that glob­al­iza­tion ben­e­fits HK

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK | BUSINESS -

Bank of Eng­land Gov­er­nor Mark Car­ney was the lat­est fi­nan­cial leader of international stature to warn of the un­rav­el­ing of the world order that had been painstak­ingly es­tab­lished in past decades.

In a lec­ture at Liver­pool John Moores Univer­sity last week, Car­ney point­edly noted that glob­al­iza­tion is in­creas­ingly be­ing seen in de­vel­oped economies, in­clud­ing Hong Kong, as be­ing “as­so­ci­ated with low wages, inse­cure em­ploy­ment, state­less cor­po­ra­tions and strik­ing in­equal­i­ties”, ac­cord­ing to a BBC re­port.

The re­jec­tion of glob­al­iza­tion and the loss of faith in the free and open mar­ket are widely be­lieved to have helped pro­pel Don­ald Trump to the White House. Trump’s vic­tory is said to have raised hopes of the eu­roskep­tic right-wing par­ties in some Euro­pean coun­tries, par- tic­u­larly Italy and France, com­ing to power in elec­tions next year.

As an international fi­nan­cial cen­ter and re­gional trad­ing hub, Hong Kong has ben­e­fited greatly from glob­al­iza­tion which en­sures the free flow of cap­i­tal and goods. But, its peo­ple have be­come in­creas­ingly dis­il­lu­sioned by the widen­ing wealth gap that’s al­ready the high­est among de­vel­oped economies.

Busi­ness lead­ers, es­pe­cially prop­erty moguls, have also con­tin­ued to ig­nore the strain on the so­cial fab­ric. Rep­re­sented by the pow­er­ful cham­bers of com­merce and other trade or­ga­ni­za­tions, busi­nesses have stiff­ened their stance against any pro­posal, no mat­ter how mod­est it may be, to en­hance work­ers’ ben­e­fits.

Even pay­ing lip service to help­ing the poor is deemed by the city’s hard-nosed busi­ness­peo­ple to be too much of a com­pro­mise to their ex­trem­ist free-mar­ket prin­ci­ple. The po­lit­i­cal sys­tem is struc­tured in a way that bars pop­ulist politi­cians from ever gain­ing power. But, glow­ing pub­lic dis­con­tent is pos­ing a se­ri­ous threat to ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance.

Car­ney said some­thing must be done to help those left be­hind by glob­al­iza­tion so as to help re­store peo­ple’s faith in free and open mar­kets. To do that, eco­nomic plan­ners “must clearly ac­knowl­edge the chal­lenges we face, in­clud­ing the re­al­i­ties of un­even gains from trade and tech­nol­ogy”, he said. “We need to move to­ward more in­clu­sive growth where ev­ery­one has a stake in glob­al­iza­tion.”

He’s not the first to have said that. The ques­tion is when the mes­sage will get through to Hong Kong’s busi­ness lead­ers.

CHRIS RAT­CLIFFE / BLOOMBERG

Bank of Eng­land Gov­er­nor Mark Car­ney sug­gests in a re­cent lec­ture that busi­ness lead­ers and de­ci­sion­mak­ers move to­ward more in­clu­sive growth that can help re­store peo­ple’s faith in free and open mar­ket as well as glob­al­iza­tion.

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