Protectionism increases the complexity of international business. Swiss exporters need to understand foreign target markets and overcome specific trade barriers, whether tariffs, product registrations or other non-tariff barriers. “In addition to clear protectionist tendencies, a general counter movement to globalization can be observed; the wider the circle in which a company operates, the greater the tendency there is for it to function locally,” says Dieter Gosteli, Head of Corporates at AXA. He continues by saying that the more globalized a company becomes, the greater its desire is for closeness; a closeness borne of ecological and psychological reasons. Gosteli stresses that protectionism is not bad per se, since it plays an important role in the development of a country. “For industrialized countries, protectionism just means homeland security; this hinders the development of a country in terms of its competitiveness.” On the other hand, he says that it can certainly make sense to protect the domestic economy in economically less developed countries, so that structures get created in the first place. “But removing this protection over time is a fine art,” continues Gosteli.
For industrialized countries, protectionism just means homeland security; this hinders the development of a country in terms of its competitiveness.
To strengthen the inward view, Gosteli reminds us: “It’s not just ‘others’ who are protectionist: we’d very much like for Swiss exporters to have free market access worldwide, but we also have to create the right conditions in Switzerland. Our insurance business, for example, is not part of the European Union’s free movement of services and is thus protected.”
AXA's insurance business is conducted abroad with local partners and companies and is not directly affected by protectionism in this regard. “But if protectionism hampers growth for the entire global economy, this also harms our business,” says Gosteli. On the other hand, he says that free trade creates new business opportunities.
Driven by new technologies, the globalization of the economy is advancing despite protectionist measures, while digitization and the fourth industrial revolution are simplifying the transport of data and goods across borders. Value chains are breaking up and becoming increasingly globalized and digitized.
In a podcast interview, Dieter Gosteli, Head of Corporates at AXA, discusses the impact of globalization on the insurance market and why free trade is central to economic growth.
Navigating between free trade agreements and barriers to market access
Switzerland pursues an active free trade policy and offers Swiss companies access to larger sales markets and greater legal certainty through free trade agreements. This enables Swiss companies to increase their competitiveness over market players from countries that don’t have free trade agreements in place. You can find out how Swiss SMEs can successfully navigate between free trade agreements, WTO rules and market access hurdles at the Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade on April 26, 2018 at Messe Zurich. Register now.
Born in 1959, Dieter Gosteli lic. oec. HSG has spent some 30 years at AXA, during which he managed various corporate functions at executive level. In addition to his experience in controlling, marketing and distribution, Dieter Gosteli also boasts broad technical expertise in Property & Casualty Business, particularly as Head of Private Client Business. He has led the Corporates division since 2015.
Meet AXA at this year’s Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade on April 26, 2018 at Messe Zurich and discuss free trade agreements and trade barriers in export with other exciting experts, SMEs and speakers. Register now.
AXA has been rooted in Switzerland for 140 years, and in 2017 achieved a transaction volume of around 11 billion francs. As the largest insurer in Switzerland, AXA also offers comprehensive services and specialized consultation for business clients, for which it is trusted by 40% of all Swiss SMEs. Thanks to flexible, industry-specific solutions and a far-reaching international network, AXA is well-placed to serve its approximately 1.9 million customers.
More articles on free trade and protectionism from the CEO Breakfast at S-GE
Andreas Gerber, Head of SME Business Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG: “No country can operate globally better than Switzerland”
Peter Gisler, Director of SERV: “We’re experiencing protectionist measures in major infrastructure projects abroad”
Ghislain de Kerviler, Managing Director of International SOS in Switzerland: «Schweizer KMU brauchen im internationalen Handel mehr Mut» (coming soon)
Stefan Räbsamen, Markets Leader at PwC: «Protektionistische Massnahmen schaden Wirtschaft und Wohlstand» (coming soon)
Dave Gleixner, Member of the Executive Committee of Data Quest: “Globalization gives us completely new opportunities”