The Business Year

Horst Köhler

Former President, Germany

Humanity’s greatest challenge today is to provide every human being with the prospect of a life in dignity and prosperity without destroying our planet along the way. This is a herculean task. To achieve this, a great transformation of our societies and economies will be necessary. And for that transformation, there can be no single global master plan, as nobody can have all the answers. Instead, the great transformation depends on creativity and leadership on all levels, and on countless bottom-up innovations from within society, from businesses and citizens. That being said, our efforts will not bear fruit without government commitment at the highest and systemic level. For example, we need prices that finally tell the truth about the ecological costs of products—for example through a functioning pricing mechanism for carbon emissions. And only governments can provide the necessary legal-political frameworks for doing this. Most importantly, no single country, no matter how powerful it may be, will be able to implement truly sustainable policies alone and without paying consideration to the needs of other countries. Global problems such as climate change, terrorism, and migration patterns require global solutions. This is why it was a truly historical moment when all 193 member states of the UN agreed on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The biggest challenge today is to translate it into concrete political action.

John Bruton

Former Taoiseach, Republic of Ireland

It is potentially easier to convince people in the UAE of the need to conserve water than it is to convince people in Ireland. In Ireland, rainfall is plentiful but it does not fall in the right places and must be recycled. Wastewater and polluted water then have to be cleaned and treated, making the whole process more expensive than most people are aware. Therefore, persuading the public that they should pay for their use of water has proven to be a politically impossible task thus far in Ireland. If you charge more for excessive use, such as the use of water, then you will drastically reduce the consumption of it. The high price encourages people to use public transport, which is part of the reason that Europe has a much better system of public transport than the US. It is a pity because without public transport you miss out on a great opportunity to physically integrate with the community. Part of the problem of modern society in the developed world is that it is increasingly becoming atomized. People are living very individually tailored lives and mistaking social media for human interaction. Technology and social media should not be something that alienates people but a platform for bringing them together, especially in efforts to collaborate when addressing the global problems facing the world today.

Augusto R. Arosemena

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Augusto R. Arosemena

Almost all free zones have what is called a one-stop shop with all the different institutions involved in processing or awarding label permits, construction permits, and visas situated in one location. So for any logistics center, providing the client with an easy way to cut through all the bureaucracy is very important. Taking it to the next level and having the entire platform digitalized and automated like what has happened in the UAE is something we are working to achieve. An advantage that Panama provides is the special incentives for immigration, allowing foreigners to come in and work freely in Panama in our special economic areas. This attracts expertise and skilled workers from all over the world, which directly benefits local workers and businesses that are able to gain from their experience and insight. Knowledge transfers are very important to Panama, a small country that is still developing. Like the UAE, we also rely on expatriates to bring executive, academic, and technical skills to the country. The UAE has done this by creating an environment that embraces globalism, multiculturalism, and is business friendly. We are looking to carve out a similar niche in Latin America by offering a cluster of incentives, ranging from location to infrastructure and ease of entry.



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