The Berlin International Economics Congress
An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roles of Global Politics & Civil Society in International Economics
Senator the Hon. Alan Baird Ferguson (The 22nd President of the Australian Senate)My best wishes to all of the participants at the Berlin International Economics Congress. An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roles of Global Politics and Civil Society in International Economics is a very interesting topic for discussion and one which I am sure will be enthusiastically discussed and debated by the high level contributors to this congress.
Best wishes to the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy and all the participants for a very successful event.
An Interview with Senator the Hon. Alan Baird Ferguson
Question:The Berlin International Economics Congress will take an interdisciplinary approach to the topics under discussion, considering issues from various angles and points of view. In your opinion, what are the advantages of an interdisciplinary approach to international economics compared to a more traditional one?
An interdisciplinary approach to international economics is important as an adjunct to the traditional approach. It enables the human, social and domestic effects of economic decisions to be taken into account when deliberating the future impact of these decisions. Traditional international economics tends to emphasise and take into account only the monetary affect and impact of decisions that are made. An interdisciplinary approach also allows for an analysis of both long term and short term effects of significant decisions to be taken into account.
Question:Through globalization and free trade the world is becoming ever more interconnected and interdependent. Why then do you think is it so difficult to reach an international consensus on laws which could close the loopholes that prevent strict regulation of international corporate activity?
One of the main obstacles to reaching international consensus on laws to close loopholes is that inevitably national priorities will take precedence over international commitments and activities. We also have the difficulty of stronger economies holding the upper hand in international decision making, while many developing nations are struggling to survive. It is only natural that poorer countries; particularly those with undernourished populations are more likely to be concerned about day to day survival than they are about adhering to international regulations both corporate and legal.
Question:In your last interview with the ICD you mentioned your disapproval of compulsory voting. What other ways do you think there are to make civil society more proactive, and why is it so important that people are not indifferent towards politics?
Civil societies throughout the world mainly fall into three categories. Firstly, those that have never had an opportunity for a democratic vote, secondly those who have only had a vote in a one party state and thirdly, those in long standing and mature democracies. Those in mature democracies, particularly those who haven’t suffered war or civil unrest tend to be apathetic towards politics, because they have always had these freedoms and tend to be among wealthier countries. In these countries, many of which have voluntary voting, the turnout at elections tends to be quite low. In new and emerging democracies there tends to be far more interest in political activity as quite often they have been deprived of that right for so long. It would appear that civil society becomes more proactive when there are standout issues to campaign for and against, for example climate change. Whether rich or poor, people will only become proactive in politics when they feel they can make a difference.
Question:The Berlin International Economics Congress will discuss the role and power of civil society as consumers. What ways do you feel that there are to make consumers more sophisticated and less likely to only consider price, but also to take ethical concerns into account?
Consumers also fall into two categories; the economically secure and the poor and underdeveloped. Ethical concerns are only likely to be taken into account when the consumers can afford to. The less financially secure and the undernourished of the world have no opportunity to take into account ethical concerns of their purchases, when it is a daily struggle to stave off hunger. In a consumers’ world, when wealthier society take into account ethical matters while considering a purchase, they need to also take into account the impact it will have on the producers of goods they are considering buying. For example, refusing to buy goods from an African country, where workers are underpaid by Western standards, can result in greater harm to the worker than the purchaser.