WTO -- Sustainable Global Business Requires Foundations
The Global Spirit of Acrimony &
Mistrust Must Be Changed!
London, UK - 23 June 2007, 09:24 GMT - Talks in Potsdam, Germany,
between the four partners at the centre of the so-called Doha round of world
trade negotiations -- the US, EU, India and Brazil -- broke up with sides
still far apart on cutting agricultural subsidies and goods tariffs.
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors
are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and
The US and the EU said India and Brazil offered no serious
access to manufactured goods markets in return for proposed reductions
in US farm subsidies and European agricultural tariffs. Kamal Nath, the
Indian trade minister, accused the rich countries of arrogance and inflexibility.
He told the Financial Times: "It is not just a question of figures.
It is a question of attitude. The US does not realise that the world has
We are grateful to Prof Jean-Pierre Lehmann at IMD Lausanne, Switzerland,
for his contribution to ATCA, "WTO -- Sustainable Global Business
Requires Foundations and Trust -- The Global Spirit of Acrimony &
Mistrust Must Be Changed!"
Jean-Pierre Lehmann is Professor of International Political Economy at
IMD International -- Institute for Management Development -- in Lausanne,
Switzerland, since January 1997. His main areas of expertise are the socio-economic
and business dynamics of East Asia, the impact of globalisation on developing
countries and the government -- business interface, especially in respect
to the global trade and investment policy process. In 1994 he launched
the Evian Group, which consists of high ranking officials, business executives,
independent experts and opinion leaders from Europe, Asia and the Americas.
The Evian Group's focus is on the international economic order in the
global era, specifically the reciprocal impact and influence of international
business and the WTO agenda. Jean-Pierre Lehmann acts in various leading
capacities in several public policy institutes and organisations. He obtained
his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, Washington DC, and
his doctorate from St Antony's College, Oxford University. He is the author
of several books and numerous articles and papers primarily dealing with
modern East Asian history and East Asia and the international political
Prior to joining IMD, Jean-Pierre Lehmann has had both an academic and
a business career which over the years has encompassed activities in virtually
all East Asian and Western European countries, as well as North America.
He was (from 1992) the founding director of the European Institute of
Japanese Studies (EIJS) at the Stockholm School of Economics and Professor
of East Asian Political Economy and Business. From 1986 to 1992 he established
and directed the East Asian operations of InterMatrix, a London based
business strategy research and consulting organisation. During that time
he was operating primarily from Tokyo, with offices in Seoul, Taipei,
Bangkok and Jakarta and was concurrently Affiliated Professor of International
Business at the London Business School. Other previous positions include:
Associate Professor of International Business at INSEAD (European Institute
of Business Administration) in Fontainebleau, France; Visiting Professor
at the Bologna Center (Italy) of the Johns Hopkins University School of
Advanced International Studies; twice in the 70s Visiting Professor and
Japan Foundation Fellow at the University of Tohoku, Sendai (Japan); and
Founding Director of the Center for Japanese Studies at the University
of Stirling (Scotland), where he also taught East Asian history in the
University's History Department. From 1981 to 1986 he directed the EC-ASEAN
'Transfer of Technology and Socio-Economic Development Programmes' held
in Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala-Lumpur and Manila. He writes:
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: WTO -- Sustainable Global Business Requires Foundations and Trust
-- The Global Spirit of Acrimony & Mistrust Must Be Changed!
The headline in the Financial Times from 22nd June reads: "Splits
and acrimony among G4 partners dash trade deal hopes." The only
problem with the title is the use of the word "partners."
In today's global economic climate, there is no sense of partnership
or solidarity. On 14th May an Evian Group communiqué was issued
titled: "An Urgent Wake-Up Call on the Multilateral Economic Order."
Just over a month later, the situation has not improved; arguably this
latest Doha Round failure is proof of a state of continued deterioration.
The fact that this failure may be little noticed and may have no immediate
impact is not a consolation. Today the global economy seems like a huge
sky-scraper, built at furious pace, with floor constructed over floor,
but with little regard to the possibly cracking foundations and no solid
insurance policy. If an earthquake comes -- which is pretty certain to
happen at some stage (it always has, and there are already a few tremors)
-- the consequences could be quite dramatic.
The main reason the Doha Agenda is not moving forward is that there is
an absolutely putrid atmosphere in the global policy making community,
an absence of trust and, as the FT headline says, a great deal of acrimony.
Between North and South, there is mutual suspicion that is eerily reminiscent
of the early 1970s. Nor however are North-North or South-South relations
characterised by trust. There is a lot of acrimony around.
In a letter also in Friday's FT "Unrestrained globalisation is
bound to change", UBS Senior Economic Adviser George Magnus adds
his voice to those who see worrying parallels with a century ago when
the global golden age seemed to beckon and failed so very miserably.
For the global market economy to be sustainable, there must be strong
institutional foundations and a spirit of minimal trust. These are the
two main foci of The Evian Group at IMD: to strengthen the institutional
foundations, especially the international rule of law and justice, and
to build confidence between communities and stakeholders of the 21st century
global economy. The two are inseparable.
Having a global economy booming with such high growth and at such high
speed with increasingly weak foundations and in a spirit of acrimony is
a recipe for possible disaster.
Collective vision, collective leadership and collective efforts are needed
at this increasingly critical juncture. We need to act and show leadership
in a manner consistent with that wonderful Chinese proverb: "It
is not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck that leads the flock to
fly and follow."
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001
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The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily
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