West ‘can’t afford’ to turn back on globalization, says Blair
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair says it is important that the West does not turn its back on globalization.
His comments come a year on from President Xi Jinping’s famous defense of globalization at the 2017 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
“The West should be engaged with the world and engaging with China and engaging with globalization. We are at risk of turning against globalization, becoming isolationist in circumstances, particularly with the rise of China, and we just can’t afford to have that attitude,” he says.
One of the aims of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is to work for more equal globalization to stem the rise of left- and right-wing populist movements in Europe and elsewhere.
“Globalization has brought enormous benefits to people. But (it is about) understanding that its consequences can sometimes be unfair, its benefits unequally distributed and then being able to correct those things without throwing the baby out with the bath water,” he says.
He says a number of steps can be taken to make globalization fairer.
“You do it through education, through infrastructure. If you take Britain today, if we didn’t have Brexit dominating our politics, you would be looking at renewing the infrastructure of the country but in a fundamental way. You’d be looking at how you develop the advantages of technology and use them to transform your public services and the way your government works,” he says.
Blair says it is important also not to forget that Western consumers had benefited from cheap Chinese manufactured goods as a result of globalization.
“People complain about how much of our import market is dominated by China, but people also like the fact they have got cheap consumer goods. I mean, people aren’t turning away from those and (they) have a beneficial impact on the standard of living of people in the West,” he says.
He adds, however, that this argument is becoming less relevant to China as the world’s second-largest economy moves up the value chain.
“What will happen in time — and this is already happening — is that as wages in China rise, you will find production moves to lower-wage countries,” he says.
“We are at risk of turning against globalization, becoming isolationist in circumstances, particularly with the rise of China, and we just can’t afford to have that attitude.” TONY BLAIR former UK prime minister