The World Economic Forum is a mecca for supporters of free world trade. Now the German chancellor feels compelled to campaign for globalization – but with new partners.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocated new forms of international cooperation.

At the end of the meeting in the Swiss Alps, the SPD politician warned against seeking salvation again in isolation in view of the various global crises in the political and economic field. “To put it bluntly: de-globalization is a dead end.” However, international cooperation must take more account of global resources, be more solidary and be smarter. For this, the large industrial nations like Germany also need new partners.

Due to the corona pandemic and the consequences of the Ukraine war for energy and food supplies, globalization is currently being questioned by some. In view of the disrupted supply chains caused by corona lockdowns, companies are increasingly faced with the question of where to buy their goods. Experts also observe a tendency towards nationalism. At the same time, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine makes it clear how dangerous and inhibiting dependence on international supply relationships can be.

“Of course we have to reduce some strategic dependencies,” emphasized Scholz on his first appearance in Davos as head of government. “Our dependence on energy imports from Russia also falls into this category – that’s why it is being ended.” The economy achieves more resilience above all by positioning itself more broadly. Otherwise, the price of tariffs and trade barriers will be paid by companies, workers and consumers who are already suffering from rising prices. Inflation in Europe has reached record levels, driven by more expensive oil and gas.

Habeck: Wrong move away from globalization

Scholz is by far not the only advocate of free trade in Davos – the World Economic Forum has always been a meeting place for supporters of a networked world. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) also left no doubt that he considers turning away from globalization to be wrong. But the rules would have to change.

In Davos, the Federal Chancellor expressed the opinion that the large industrialized countries must look for new partners. “In this multipolar world, very different countries and regions are demanding a greater political say in line with their growing economic and demographic weight.” This is “not a threat”, but may provide answers to important future questions. Germany holds the presidency of the seven major industrialized countries (G7) this year.

Scholz has also invited South Africa, Senegal, India, Indonesia and Argentina to the summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria at the end of next month. “They represent countries and regions whose cooperation the world needs in order to make progress on global challenges in the future.” However, a partnership with such countries also means showing solidarity in the face of impending hunger, commodity and inflation crises. “In a multipolar world, such an international order will not be possible without international solidarity.”

“War must end as soon as possible”

He also expects this solidarity when dealing with Russia. He, too, was worried about “whether a war would break out that would go beyond the current war in Ukraine”. This must “be an incentive every day that we do everything to ensure that this terrible war ends as quickly as possible”. Scholz also reported in Davos on the planned 100 billion euro program for the Bundeswehr. For the first time ever, Germany is delivering weapons to such a war zone. Putin will only seriously negotiate peace if he cannot break Ukraine’s defenses.

What the chancellor didn’t say a word about: There are informal agreements among the NATO allies to forego the delivery of certain weapon systems. As confirmed to the dpa in Brussels, this is intended to reduce the risk of a direct military confrontation between NATO countries and Russia. Scholz merely said that nothing was done that would involve a direct confrontation between nuclear powers. He accused Russia of imperialism. “This is an attempt to bomb us back to a time when war was a common policy tool.”