Globalist East vs Protectionist West

Published 31.03.2017 20:24
Updated 31.03.2017 20:26

If one of the biggest names in economics, Adam Smith, were here, he would be shocked. Just think for a moment, Asian economies who were under the significant influence of communist regimes during the Cold War, and who are still governed by communist regimes, are now the number one defenders of "globalization" and "free global trade," whereas the politicians of Western countries, who had been the biggest defenders of "liberalism" since the 18th century, are now raising their voices for "protectionism." We can almost hear the cracking of the "European Union project" that was put forward as a civilization project. In the week of Britain officially starting "Brexit," it is unclear which direction the election year in Europe will carry the European Union's future. While the 60th anniversary of the historic agreement for the first steps toward today's European Union were taken as half-heartedly celebrated in Rome, the visit to the Vatican surprised developing economies.

While the EU was celebrating the 60th year of the Treaty of Rome that carried the union to the present, Bo'ao Forum for the Asia Annual Conference 2017, held in China's Hainan state, presented a totally different picture with its "Work Together to Advance Economic Globalization" statement. The statement that was published for the conference expressed that the aim of the forum was to deepen and advance the economic changes, coordination and cooperation among Asian nations, as well as between Asia and different regions of the world. In the statement drawing attention to the pressure of global growth, the opposition to globalization and the rise in protectionism, the governments and businesses of different countries were called to stay loyal to the principles of free market, inclusive growth and economic cooperation. Frankly, this is a call to the Donald Trump Administration and to the protectionist statements of the rising "far rightist" political leaders in Europe.

A call to reform globalization

The final declaration of the Bo'ao Forum for Asia Annual Conference pointed out that some countries' administrations should boost their reform efforts to strengthen the international economic order and global governance system and that the determined policies should guarantee the common interests of countries. On top of that, the declaration emphasized that trade protectionism should be rejected, and that trade and investments drive sustainable global development. Additionally, it was stated that international and regional organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), should work together to build a more open, inclusive, fair, and impartial bilateral and multilateral trade systems. The statement summoned a number of international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), to develop a global financial audit mechanism supporting cross-border capital movement and minimizing the negative effects on the real economy.

Rising Asia is shifting the global balance

Countries such as Turkey/the Ottoman Empire, China, India and Pakistan that were carrying out 72 percent of the global production of goods and services in 1750 lost their positions after the first 150 years of the first and second industrial revolutions, going down to 11 percent. The Ottomans had a 3 percent share in global production, but lost most of this share at the beginning of the 1900s, falling to 0.5 percent. Over the 94 years of the Republic of Turkey, we could only bring that up to 1 percent. Now, heading toward 2050, a historical opportunity awaits to bring that number back up to 3 percent. The 1980s, with the late Turgut Ozal, was a period when Turkey was opening itself up to the outside world and was establishing close relationships outside of Europe in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The following 1990s were 10 chaotic years for Turkey, accompanied with a loss of self-confidence, thus, we were again transformed into a Europe-dependent economy.

At the beginning of the 2000s, 62 percent of our exports and more than 90 percent of our direct investments and finances were dependent on Europe. After the end of 2002, the 15 years with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in power allowed Turkey to regain its self-confidence with its decreasing dependence on Europe through a critical diversification in exports. The share of non-Europeans in Turkish exports has increased to 58.6 percent. Financial cooperation with Gulf countries, Russia and China has expanded, and in direct foreign capital investments, the rising stars of the world economy have lined up to invest in Turkey. Rising Asian initiatives to cooperate with Turkey in economics and politics has caused serious worry in Europe. We are realizing important investments with first and second generation neighboring countries as well as with China, South Korea, and Japan in areas such as: Space technologies, communication technologies, rail systems, energy, nuclear energy, renewable energy and in strategic sectors like petroleum chemicals. The cooperation efforts of the rising Asia and Pacific region with Turkey will be a new stepping stone for us.

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