How do we do business in a (de)globalized world?

Has globalization stalled? Until just recently, globalization seemed inevitable. But now, as we see nation states begin to reassert their economic and social independence, it seems we are at crossroads.

On Thursday, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sberbank held its annual business breakfast, discussing in-depth the new business landscape that has emerged, and the challenges faced in this uncertain future. Hosted by chief executive officer Herman Gref, the breakfast sought to deliver practical solutions to the big question: is de-globalization a new normal and how should businesses change their strategy?

A lively discussion ensued with impassioned talks from Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, Maxim Oreshkin, Russian minister of economy, Professor Ngaire Woods, dean of Blavatnik School of Government, Anatoly Chubais, CEO, Rosnano and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Maxim Oreshkin was first to speak, "We have reached the end of a long term of economic policy. It has created a lot of additional value to the economy, but the key problem is that it was not distributed equally. Not between countries and not within countries."

Ngaire Woods, the dean of Blavatnik School of Government agreed, "We're watching another transition. The United States model of open markets is under challenge. But I think the real challenge is against capitalism as it has become, and that's what we're seeing in polling data in country after country. In Britain, a country that led on privatization, a recent poll 70-80 percent of Brits want to see these companies re-nationalized. And that's not nationalism, that's state control. There is a shift back to saying we no longer trust the rules of capitalism."

But is the shift inevitable? Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that globalization has brought about a lot of good but that there is rising anxieties — like immigration — across the whole of Europe. "The feeling of many people my view is simply this, if we want to regain stability we have to deal with the anxieties that exist. If we don't find the answers, other people will ride the anger and that's really what's been happening in western politics."

And the future? Blair says that "its hugely in our interests now that political leadership emerges that is able to explain to people the benefits of globalization so we can face the forth coming 4th industrial revolution — which will change everything."

This was a thought-provoking and challenging conversation which garnered passionate thoughts from attendees from right across the public and private sectors.


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