SINGAPORE: The backlash against globalisation, particularly in Europe and the US, has brought about a shift in the global world order, said Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Saturday (Feb 18) at the 9th Munich Young Leaders Round Table in Germany.
It was the disruption of jobs that technological change brings and the increased mobility of migrants that globalisation brings with it that created the backlash, said Dr Ng.
For instance, he cited figures which showed that in the US, the percentage of employed local-born American workers has only increased by 1 per cent over the last 10 years, while for foreigners, it increased by about 13 per cent.
And according to the US Internal Revenue Service, since 2009, the top 1 per cent in the US have seen their income grow by about 8 per cent, and the bottom 99 per cent has grown only by 4 per cent.
In Europe, a Gallup poll showed that 52 per cent of Europeans want immigration to be reduced.
"I think these developments in part explain Brexit, the Trump victory, the rise of the anti-
EU, and the anti-immigration parties in Europe," said Dr Ng.
"And in retrospect, I think politically, most countries were - Singapore included - probably
unrealistic to expect our populations to deal with that kind of pace of globalisation, especially when it had to do with migration," he added. "This backlash against globalisation is emotional and will take time to resolve."
The round table, held on the sidelines of the 53rd Munich Security Conference, brings together young leaders from governments, think-tanks and the private sector from the Asia-Pacific countries, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States to discuss issues related to foreign and security policy.
THE SEARCH FOR A COMMON CAUSE TO UNITE NATIONS
The growth of new centres of economic and military power has given rise to cross-cutting and complex global changes, said Dr Ng.
This was unlike post-World War II during which a common cause was forged amongst nations with an emphasis on re-building, creating institutions to prevent further war and enhancing global trading systems.
"So that common cause, I think, united the world even though there were differences, and particularly the Cold War," noted Dr Ng.
“So, in this multipolar world, you ask, ‘What is the common cause that countries in Asia, Europe, Central Asia, South America, and the Islamic nations can coalesce to build upon?’” said Dr Ng who warned of a return to "regional hegemony", where each region marches to its own tune, in the absence of common cause.
“And this is where it is worrisome because at the stroke of a pen, the US has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would have united 12 nations that accounted for 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. It would have been a very powerful instrument,” Dr Ng pointed out.
“And if the US withdraws from the Paris Agreement, which it might (and) which it says it would, I think the effect of any initiative on climate change will be severely dampened and retarded,” he added.
As part of his programme in Munich, later on Saturday, Dr Ng will meet the chairperson of China's Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress, Fu Ying, said Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).
It said Dr Ng will also speak on the topic of security in East Asia and the Korean Peninsula at the 53rd Munich Security Conference.
The conference, held annually in Germany since 1963, brings together key foreign affairs and defence leaders as well as policymakers from around the world.