Germany, the G20, and Inclusive Globalization

BERLIN – Globalization is getting increasingly bad press in the West nowadays. Populist movements allege that it does not benefit the average citizen very much, if at all. Instead, they tout protectionism and unilateralism. National policies, whether with respect to trade or financial regulation, are seen as the surest way to restore national greatness.

But this populist agenda is based on the deeply flawed premise that international cooperation and international trade are zero-sum games, producing only winners and losers. In fact, cooperation and trade can deliver benefits to all countries. For many years now, they have increased global security and certainly global prosperity, with hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty, both in the developed and the developing world.

To be sure, globalization needs rules and a recognized framework to ensure that it benefits everybody, delivering sustained and inclusive economic growth. As with national legislation, it is a framework that requires constant adjustments. But to abandon it altogether and retreat from globalization is the wrong answer. On the contrary, we should be seeking ways to deepen and broaden international economic cooperation.

In my view, the G20 is the best forum for increased and inclusive cooperation. Of course, the G20 is not perfect, but it is the best institution we now have for achieving a form of globalization that works for everyone. Through it, the world’s main industrialized and emerging countries have worked together toward constructing a shared global order that can deliver increasing prosperity. Indeed, the G20 is the political backbone of the global financial architecture that secures open markets, orderly capital flows, and a safety net for countries in difficulty.