I had been watching the Davos talks from my hotel room and feeling unimpressed with the “mini-ministerial” beginning Friday. It seemed to be burdened with the big budgets and establishment-style interests that have hampered EU meetings, not to mention previous rounds—it’s not very “mini” at all. Despite humanity’s wishes to treat all nations on an equal scale, the bias is ﬁrmly in the ﬁrst world’s favour: no civil society groups participate, and the talks are restricted to the 30 richest countries.
I have made a good part of my career on telling things to people straight, including marketing strategies. The ﬁrst section on the corporate direction does not need to be 100 pages long with big words. An executive summary and 10 pages of guts will serve a lot of people well—with supplementary documentation available for speciﬁc departments. And those companies do all right.
Finance and trade ministers need to learn to communicate using plain language again, even if that looks unimpressive to their colleagues. They should be courageous enough to know, but perhaps I am misplacing my faith in assuming politicians can be courageous. Speaking plainly and with action in mind will look very impressive to their constituents back home: that it looks like they are sincere about their jobs. And that is where their power is, or should be, coming from.
The formalities of these meetings, the need for photo opportunities, the lavish budgets and, no doubt, the inﬂuence of big business all go against the idea that the nations are there to meet to help the planet. Dumping and barriers haven’t gone away—what happened to the fervour of Tony Blair wishing to wipe off third-world debt, an easily solveable problem? Could Mother please stop calling John Steed and call Bono instead?
Once again, I place some hope in India, which looks more and more like the leading democracy of our times.
India has always wished to be inclusive of all its people, and it will be interesting to see how it can manage that in a period of rapid growth.
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told the Times of India, ‘The biggest problem is that the developed world is refusing to set right the ﬂaws in their own trade policies and are asking the developing world to make signiﬁcant concessions if the ﬂaws in the developed country policies have to be rectiﬁed.’
He and I are in agreement about where the bias lies: ‘They say if you want us to change our agricultural subsidy policies and make a level playing ﬁeld, then you need to make concessions. This is not at all acceptable to the developing countries. We want the ﬂaws in policies to be rectiﬁed before we undertake the negotiations on what is the next step.’
Of course, this places the onus on the ﬁrst world—not always a good thing if you want movement.
If the ﬁrst world doesn’t move, other countries may well do the moving for it, and it won’t like what they might do: South America’s swing to leftist parties will see tension between globalist companies wishing to operate there and a desire by unions to protect workers from what the National Labor Committee in New York calls ‘the race to the bottom’, with ever-lower hourly wages in sweat-shops. (Which, of course, brings me back to Beyond Branding and my earlier post today.)
Let’s hope that by the end of the weekend, we see a decent plan. The pessimist in me suggests that there will emerge a plan to draft a plan. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:46
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