Kemi Osukoya, The Africa Bazaar Magazine

October 2018

The growing tensions between the United States and China signals a significant shift in the ascendancy of world order to a new world order that is Sinocentric, which will continue to manifest in the next few decades, said former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dow Chemical, Andrew N. Liveris last month speaking at the Concordia Annual Meeting in New York

“In the next few decades, I think we’re seeing the ascendence of new world order, which is Sino-centric,” said Mr. Liveris. “China will have a major role to play in the next few centuries and we need to figure out how the United States and other democracies is responding to their role and what their role pretty much looks like.”

He underscored his point by noting that China is already benefiting from wealth creation without the U.S. or the Athenian democracy, and warned that the trade war with China is a negative distraction from the titanic force of technology and tribalism on the society.

“What the United States is doing [in the trade war with China] is well understood,” said Liveris. “There is no question that China’s trade is not fair, but we’re fighting the wrong battle and I don’t see the topic of how does fairness gets put back into the equation.”

Mr. Liveris said that while the Trump administration’s ongoing trade negotiations with China and threats may ensue in some levels of trade compromises, it will not resolve the underling tensions that created the trade imbalance in the first place, and will only lead to short term solutions in nature. 

Those tensions, Mr. Liveris said, which arose from “fermentation of anger and frustration from people, and workforce” in general, are already leading to populism in America as well as other developed nations and emerging economies.

Mr. Liveris urged governments and their societies as a whole to think through their role in being responsive to this titanic force [of the machine age], and said rethinking of the U.S. role in the global world and the up skilling of American workforce as well as a major reform to the American educational system will help prepare most American workforce to better compete globally.

“This whole market in America called jobs, we ‘re fooled by this jobless rate,” Mr. Leveris stated. “We have down-skilled our jobs and changed the way workers create and we’re not educating people for the job of today and tomorrow. We need to either reform our education system and then create the sort of jobs that the machine age demands.”

He said the only way that can work is through collaborative efforts of the government and the private sector through the prism of public private partnership. He added that while there are some activities going on in the PPP, currently neither class of elected politicians or appointed CEOs are being responsive for the medium to long-term solutions that will lessen effects of advanced technology on American workforce.  

“I think the prism through which public private partnership is being institutionalized in the way society now respond proactively to the machine age is a must do condition,” he stated. “There are some activities going on in the PPP, but this needs to be an FDI moment. This needs to be a new deal to change the way America is responsive to this titanic force.”

Mr. Liveris added that business leaders will have to step up and really look at the medium to long-term as the only way they can operate and change the dialogue from a shareholder-only valued proposition to a multi-stakeholder value proposition, which will include all representatives of the society.

“If you set that macro as condition for precedent, the businesses will have to step up,” he said.