It has perhaps become commonplace to say that the world is becoming more and more connected. That we live in a global village. That we all depend on each other. But it’s worth repeating because it needs to condition how we work to make the modern world a fairer and more prosperous place for all.
Crises have a habit of bringing this into particular focus. Think global banking and you probably think crisis. Global and climate now equals threat. Think international solidarity and you perhaps think Haiti earthquake and perhaps Pakistan floods. There is an underlying narrative that links the way we are connected to our inherent vulnerabilities.
But connectedness is also about opportunity. And the publication yesterday by the British government of our new Trade and Investment White Paper shows the way. Interconnectedness also means trade and investment, and these are roads to strong and sustainable growth for the future.
There is an important idea too about how our mutual dependency can be a positive. Trade and investment is not a game where some countries or parts of the world win and others lose. We all gain from an increase in trade. Trade is a way out of poverty for poor countries.
But this needs openness. The fastest growing countries are often those with the fewest trade barriers. So we must commit to open markets globally and make sure we don’t revert to protectionism. The UK is launching an African Free Trade initiative to remove barriers to trade. Further a conclusion of the Doha Development Round of trade talks in 2011 would mean that this agreement, once signed, would boost the global economy by £110 billion.
The UK also want to build partnerships to help businesses build networks and strengthen international trade and investment and multilateral system.
This will not be an easy task, but it is a task that we can achieve if we have confidence in what we can achieve together, for jobs and growth and in the struggle against world poverty. It’s time to trade up.