President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint press conference and penned an article Thursday, and both stressed that globalization is here to stay.
“Today we find ourselves at a crossroads — the future is upon us, and we will never return to a pre-globalization economy. As Germans and Americans we must seize the opportunity to shape globalization based on our values and our ideas,” Obama and Merkel wrote in the article published in the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
Merkel during her remarks at the press conference said something similar when speaking about “progress” with trade between the United States and Germany. “I think we share this conviction is that globalization needs to be shaped politically. It needs to be given a human face, but we cannot fall back into pre-globalization times.”
There has been a surge of populism in the West in 2016 fighting against globalization. Obama will be replaced by President-elect Donald Trump, who has campaigned against globalization, and Merkel is facing political challenges at home.
“The world is shrinking,” Obama said when asked by a reporter about the rise of populism. “Economies have become much more integrated, and demographics are shifting. Because of the internet and communications, the clash of cultures is much more direct. People feel, I think, feel less certain about their identity, less certain about economic security. They’re looking for some means of control.”
He added: “What that means is that the politics in all of our countries is going to require us to manage technology and global integration and all these demographic shifts in a way that makes people feel more in control, in a way that gives them more confidence in their future, but does not resort to simplistic answers or division in race or tribe or crude nationalism.”
The president said that he believes that for the foreseeable future, “our politics every where will be going through this bumpy phase.”
He said “overall” he remains optimistic because of the views of young people.
“Across the board young people are much more comfortable with respecting differences. They are much more comfortable with diversity,” Obama said. “They see themselves as part of a global economy that they can navigate successfully.”
Merkel said there has been a “wave of populism” and “there are a lot of people who are looking for simplistic solutions.”
She described these policies that are being preached by populists as “very unfriendly policies.”
The German chancellor described the current age as one of a period “grand transformation.” Merkel described it as a shift similar to the one from the agricultural period to the industrial.