The World Economy in Transition: A Realignment of Relations between Europe, the USA and Asia
On 29 May 2017, the commercial law firm Binder Grösswang held its latest discussion in the series Binder Grösswang impulse in the conference area of the firm. The topic was “The World Economy in Transition: A Realignment of Relations between Europe, the USA and Asia”.
Michael Kutschera, Managing Partner of Binder Grösswang, welcomed the speakers Stefan Doboczky, CEO of Lenzing AG; Martin Kocher, Research Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna; Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG and Johann Sollgruber, Advisor for Trade Issues at the European Commission Representation in Austria. The discussion was moderated by Martina Salomon, Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Economics Editor of the daily newspaper KURIER. Approximately 120 invited guests attended.
Stefan Doboczky, CEO of the globally operating fibre group Lenzing AG, emphasized that overall, free trade and globalization bring prosperity and peace to mankind. “Countries that engage in fair trade with each another do not make war on each other,” Doboczky pointed out. In his opinion, there is a need for more international competition, not less, but a “race to the bottom” between nations, be it in the area of taxes or in environmental standards, has to be prevented, because the damage to society that would ensue would be higher than the original savings. “The implementation of conditions for fair competition is the responsibility of international institutions and the EU, which need to be strengthened for this purpose. At present, in particular, given that the USA appears to be moving in the direction of greater isolation, the EU ought to grasp China’s outstretched hand to take advantage of more free trade and fair competition for the benefit of Europe.”
Martin Kocher, Research Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna, declared: “For a small, open economy like Austria’s, trade agreements are of immense importance. A reversal of the globalization trend would cost us a portion of our prosperity; the losses would be felt not only by our economy but also in society. Negative effects of globalization, for example a lack of employment for unskilled labour, have to be compensated by Austrian government policy.”
Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG, stated: “The USA is threatening to institute a policy of protectionism; China wants to expand free trade. In times of possible changes in trade policies, it is all the more important that Europe present a united front. The positive economic development of Europe, and with it, that of Austria, depends on well-functioning world trade. Broader access to the Asian market should be sought, but the further development of trade relations with the USA also has to be preserved. Europe has to successfully ensure rule-based trade, through constructive bilateral negotiations as well as through the implementation of trade agreements.”
Johann Sollgruber, Advisor for Trade Issues at the European Commission Representation in Austria, said: “At present, the EU is negotiating more than 20 trade agreements with various countries and trade blocs, such as Japan, Vietnam, Mexico and Mercosur, and many ASEAN states such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, which are important growth markets in Southeast Asia. An agreement with Japan could be concluded before the end of this year. The agreement with Canada, CETA, serves in many ways as an example of a far-reaching, modern, well-balanced trade agreement. The European Union stands for free markets and will work to counter protectionist tendencies while at the same time ensuring the rights of employees and consumers and observing the principles of sustainability. This is in the EU’s own interests. For many decades, foreign trade has played a dynamic role in stimulating economic growth, and accounts for 35% of the EU’s entire GDP. In Austria, this component is even greater. Austria has an export quota of just under 54% of GDP, which means that Austria generates more than half of its gross domestic product through export.”
The guests who attended the discussion included: Josef Braunshofer (CEO, Berglandmilch), Ingo Bleier (Erste Bank), Markus Bunk (CEO, Österreichische Bankwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft), Felix Clary und Aldringen (Management Board, Wiesenthal), Alexander Eberan (Management Board Member, Bankhaus Krentschker), Harald Friedrich (Management Board Member, SEMPER CONSTANTIA PRIVATBANK), Erhard Fürst (Telekom-Control-Commission), Gernot Heschl (CEO, VBV-Pensionskasse), Emilie Janeba-Hirtl (Managing Director, aws Gründerfonds), Jean Kageneck (Country Head, Austria BNP Paribas), Andreas Khol (former National Council president), Georg Krenkel (CEO, Helvetia Versicherungen), Andreas Lampl (Editor in Chief, trend), Martina Lederer (Managing Director, Raiffeisen Property Holding International GmbH), Hannes Leitgeb (Management Board Member, MASTERINVEST Kapitalanlage), Markus Partl (Management Board Member, Ärztebank), Michael Perthold (Managing Director, Coface Austria), Herbert Pichler (Supervisory Board Member, Wüstenrot Landeszentrale Wien), Herbert Stepic, Günther Tengel (Managing Partners, Amrop Jenewein), Saskia Wallner (CEO ,Ketchum Publico) and many others.
The discussion series Binder Grösswang impulse focuses on current subjects and outstanding personalities, and takes place twice annually in the exclusive ambience of the firm’s premises in Vienna.