September 25, 2017 / 8:48 PM / in a year

Siemens CEO says globalism is the best response to German election

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of German industrial manufacturer Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) said on Monday that Germany’s weekend election, in which the national populist Alternative for Germany party gained seats in the Bundestag, should be met with increased globalism by wealthy democracies.  

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser arrives for a news conference before the company's annual shareholders meeting in Munich, southern Germany, February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Chief Executive Officer Joe Kaeser, in an interview with Reuters on Monday, said millions will lose jobs as companies make greater use of the internet, even as new jobs are created.

That trend, coupled with rising opposition to immigrants by those losing out as industry shifts to new technology, has sounded a warning that calls for action, he said.

“We need to show leadership by showing people what are the changes, why is that important that we help people from other countries if they are in need,” Kaeser said.

“That is specifically addressed to refugees. I think especially Germany and its arc of history should have a very clear understanding and sensitivity about those matters.”

Kaeser said it was important to explain that “all our wealth and all our export power has also come by the fact that other nations were willing to see us. This is very important. Since yesterday I have actually decided to be even more outgoing and explain to people why openness and global understanding and tolerance is good for the world.”

Kaeser, who was in New York for a CEO conference, made no specific recommendations, saying: “Just going out more and communicating and explaining it better than we obviously used to.”

Germany’s election on Sunday secured Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term, but with a much-weakened coalition.

What is often referred to as the internet of things, which makes industrial equipment run more efficiently using computer analytics, will hurt older workers who lack the necessary skills, Kaeser said. Young workers “will be fine. It’s much more about those millions to be retrained and prepared for the new age of working,” he said.

“I believe for Germany (the election) has been the right sign for the right time,” Kaeser said. “So that we change course, we explain better to our people how important it is to be a free country who is open for the world, who also understands that there is a duty we have to fulfill out of our wealth but also out of our history.

“I am actually very positive that we can turn that around before it’s too late.”

Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Dan Grebler

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