If various countries do not work together to get out of the current crisis created by the novel coronavirus pandemic and other factors, the world could look like it did in 1900, warned the former head of the World Bank.
A serious threat to the global economic recovery is posed by the rift between the US and China, said Robert Zoellick.
One of the most senior public officials of the United States, Zoellick has advised six US presidents during his career.
In an interview with the BBC, he said that co-operation was “the only way the global economy will emerge from the recession”.
The escalating tensions between the US and China was his biggest concern, said Zoellick, who was also the US deputy secretary of state.
“I think [the relationship] is in freefall today and I don’t think we know where the bottom is, and that is a very dangerous situation,” he said in the interview.
If countries go back on globalization and follow nationalist interests, “the world could look more like the world of 1900 when the great powers were in competition”, Zoellick warned.
Between 2007 and 2012, when the world faced the global financial crisis, Zoellick served as the president of the World Bank.
During the financial crisis of 2007-08, Zoellick was involved in tackling the crisis as the head of the World Bank in close cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and world governments.
“The 2008-09 financial crisis was a very serious event but we had the G20, [and] central banks co-operating. President Bush and then President Obama were part of international efforts with [then UK prime minister] Gordon Brown,” he said.
“Frankly, even China had a very strong stimulus programme and also co-operated in various ways. We don’t have that sense of co-operation today.”
He believed that the US should be working more closely with China to work out a solution for th economic impact of the pandemic instead of “indicting them for it”, Zoellick said.
US President Donald Trump is the person he blames for causing much of the damage.
Zoellick worked with the previous Republican Presidents George W Bush and George H W Bush. But he minced no words to show his dislike for the current Republican in office.
“I’ve been opposed to Trump from the start… not only because of his policy positions but also because of what I think are flaws in his character. I was worried about what he would do with institutions and the constitution and we’re seeing that borne out, and in the pandemic, we’re seeing another dimension, which is a question of competence.”
At a time when China’s power is starting to overshadow the Asian region, anxieties in the region was being created by President Trump’s scepticism about US alliances and protectionism, believes Zoellick.
(Adapted from BBC.com)