Ensure globalisation benefits everyone

The surprise outcome of the referendum in Britain on whether to leave the European Union and, now, the election of Mr Donald Trump as president of the United States should make clear the message: Globalisation, as it has been practised for the past decades, is a disaster for the common folk ("Trump beats the odds in shock win"; yesterday).

International agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been preaching the mantra of open markets and free trade.

Without a doubt, globalisation and free trade go hand in hand, but without carefully crafted policies of national governments to protect their people and domestic industries, the benefits of globalisation will not trickle down to the working class, but benefit only the elite.

Globalisation brings about massive change, not only in terms of fund movements and investments but also labour migration.

Without governments' carefully planned policies, an influx of migrant workers can indeed deprive citizens of their jobs or depress wages.

The recent shock voting results in Britain and the United States should be a prophetic call to all governments, particularly power brokers in international trade and economic groupings, to modify the rules of the game - globalisation should be achieved such that everyone wins, both internally and internationally.

As a small country, Singapore does not want to see an increase in protectionism around the world, especially when both Britain and the United States are influential politically and economically.

Globalisation needs to be reformed to benefit everyone, individuals and nations alike.

Peter Chan Teng Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Ensure globalisation benefits everyone'. Print Edition | Subscribe