On Tuesday (30 August), the Ambassadors Conference Business Forum (known as BoKoWiTa in German for short) took place at the Federal Foreign Office. The around 230 heads of German missions abroad met 1100 high-level guests from large, small and medium-sized companies, as well as start-ups. This year’s motto is “Shifts of power in a globalised world: shaping change”. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the event in the morning.
15th Ambassadors Conference Business Forum
“The exchange between the worlds of foreign policy and business is becoming increasingly necessary”, said Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the opening. This was the 15th occasion on which diplomats came together with members of the business community as part of the Ambassadors Conference; the Business Forum is the largest annual event organised by the Federal Foreign Office.
“Turbulent times”: finding a new international order
Shaping change, especially in turbulent times: the crisis in Ukraine, the ongoing civil war in Syria, the conflicts in Libya and Iraq and, not least, Britain’s decision to leave the EU – all of these phenomena make it necessary to reshape the international order. “Much of what has become familiar to us over the past decades is now breaking up”, summed up Steinmeier.
He went on to say that there were also changes in the economic sphere: while “here at home, forces are undermining the European Union”, in Asia, Africa, Latin America and countries closer to home, new powers are rising to the fore. At the same time, the spread of digital technology was presenting companies around the world with major challenges. The changes in the international order were having a particularly strong impact on Germany, as a country that had close ties with the rest of the world.
Shaping globalisation fairly
The Minister went on to say it was crucial that the new order be shaped fairly. To date, Steinmeier said, many people had felt cut off from the success of globalisation: “The promise of globalisation – greater prosperity for all through more trade and interconnections – has not come true for millions of people.” This feeling of being cut off was fuelling political isolation and economic protectionism – tendencies which, for example, were reflected in the success of populist slogans and in a fundamental scepticism about free trade agreements. The task now was to counter the temptation of these easy answers and the calls for the drawbridge to be pulled up.
Political and economic responsibility
The Minister stated that business was also called upon to help shape the international order fairly. Steinmeier regards German companies as positive role models here: they see it as a given “that long-term investments in foreign markets, rather than short-term resource exploitation, is what counts” – principles, which were also sustainable in a globalised world.
Ambassadors Conference Business Forum: Discussions in fora and workshops
In the course of the Business Forum, the ambassadors and business representatives came together in a total of 15 fora and workshops to discuss issues such as “Beyond Brexit”, “Opportunities and risks for German corporations in Latin America” or “Competition or cooperation: Germany and China in the global marketplace”.
Transatlantic relations were also on the agenda: At the closing event, Foreign Minister Steinmeier participated in a discussion under the heading “The United States and Germany – the future of a partnership” with Joe Kaeser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG, and Philipp Justus, Vice President of Google for Germany, Central and Eastern Europe.