Challenges for the global economic and trade order
“Multilateralists” was the unusual form of address chosen by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas today (28 August) at the start of his speech to open the Business Forum of the 16th Conference of the Heads of German Missions in Berlin.
With this choice of words, the Foreign Minister set the tone right at the start for the most important meeting of foreign policy and business representatives this year. Traditionally, the second day of the so called Ambassadors Conference centres on interaction and exchange with representatives of major concerns, small and medium-sized enterprises, start ups and associations. Their discussions tend to focus on economic and political developments, as well as on future opportunities on international markets.
This year, however, the dominant theme is the form the future global economic and trade order should take. As Foreign Minister Maas declared, “The rules based world economic order is increasingly being called into question. As one of the world’s most open and closely interconnected economies, this hits us particularly hard.”
Europe needs to speak with one voice
The US Administration’s protectionist trade policy, China’s rise as a technological superpower, the use of sanctions as a foreign policy tool, the looming Brexit – the list of challenges facing the free world trade and economic order is long.
For Foreign Minister Maas, the answer is a united Europe that confidently works to promote exchange, cooperation, division of labour and international cooperation. The Minister is convinced that “if we speak with one voice as Europeans, our words carry weight”.
Exchange between foreign policy and business
German foreign policy also relies on the expertise of and close exchange with business representatives. This year’s Business Forum, under the motto “Between protectionism and state capitalism – challenges facing the rules based trade order”, will therefore discuss the urgent political challenges we face, as well as the relationship between climate and security, responsible corporate governance for globalisation with a social dimension and Africa as a business location in 17 country panels and forums. Other topics include smart cities, connectivity, energy issues and the creative sector.
In the spirit of close European cooperation, Foreign Minister Maas opened the Business Forum with Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland. Maas said that the current challenges could be overcome only through closer cooperation and new networks with like minded countries, adding that “more than ever before, the world needs the hard work and dedication of firm believers in multilateralism” like us.