In an interview broadcast live on the American news network MSNBC, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO stressed that tit-for-tat tariffs were not the answer to legitimate grievances of marginalized groups who may have been negatively affected by globalization.
As China and the United States challenge each other before the World Trade Organization, in an escalating trade war, Mr Denton’s message to MSNBC anchor and business correspondent Ali Velshi was clear: The global trading system does need reform but international trade has fueled growth and development around the world and it is principally the task of domestic policy to ensure that countries are ready to compete in a globalized economy.
“There is an issue that we are confusing job losses as a consequence of trade or as a consequence of shifts in economic power or from technological advances,” Mr Denton said. “Decisions about how you skill people up to confront new realities of new jobs that are being created are domestic issues.”
During the interview, Mr Denton highlighted that as it created an organization for multilateral trade the US in the 1940’s stood for trade in non-discriminatory, open trade in abundance believing that combined, these elements would lead to greater peace and prosperity.
Recognising that talk of the aggregate benefits of trade was of little comfort to someone who has lost their job or is working for less, Mr Denton said: “I’m genuinely worried about those who are no longer in favour of the open economy. Investing in skills and development is only part of the answer. It also requires looking at what the jobs of the future are, and how you prepare people for lifelong learning to participate in that is not just a government issue. It should obsess businesses everywhere.”
Evidence shows that well over 80% of job losses in advanced economies are not due to trade, but increased productivity through technology and innovation. As the world’s largest business organization ICC urges governments at the national level to work with business to shape policies and partnerships that address labour market dislocations.