Globalization’s inequities need to be addressed: Swiss leader

Sommaruga says it would be a 'dangerous mistake' to ignore the uncertainty felt by many people

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President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday business leaders needed to answer the questions concerning the inequities of globalization, warning that today’s global context was one of uncertainty.

She said uncertainty was prevalent in current conflicts and crisis regions and gaining a foothold in comparatively prosperous countries of Europe.

“Overall, globalization has led to greater prosperity and reduced poverty, but that is not the case everywhere,” Sommaruga, who is participating in the 45th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, told participants.

But globalization induces a "deep-seated" sense of uncertainty in many people, she said, adding that such concerns needed to be addressed.

“It would be a dangerous mistake to ignore the uncertainty felt by many people,” she warned, noting the rise of nationalist and populist parties in many European states that are “critical of globalization, reject immigration and incite skepticism toward the European Union,” according to a press released.

Sommaruga urged business leaders and politicians to accept responsibility and address the uncertainties created by today’s global economy.

“Are we creating an economic environment in which only high performers working under constant pressure can prevail?” she asked. “Competition is growing for the highly developed economies too. In more and more countries, workers are still paid low wages but now offer highly skilled labor.”

Business leaders, Sommaruga said, have avoided responsibility for answering and addressing the inequitable distribution of the benefits of globalization.

“We need business people who want to earn money but who also want something more,” she said.

“We need business people who want to give others a chance; employers who set benchmarks in terms of profit and of corporate culture. We also need commodities groups that prohibit all forms of forced labor and exploitation, and that recognize the rights of others.”

There are more than 2,500 participants at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, which runs from Jan. 21 to Jan. 24.

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