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Coca-Cola CEO: Act to fix unemployment

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 0450 GMT (1250 HKT)
  • Coke CEO says companies need to help find solution to rising global unemployment
  • ILO predicts 202 million people will be jobless in 2013, up 5.1 million from 2012
  • In June 2012, Coke announced plans to re-enter Myanmar after 60 year absence
  • In 2012, developing economies in Asia, Africa contributed most to global jobless numbers

Correction: A previous version of this story was mistakenly based on comments from a CNN interview with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent from the 2012 Davos World Economic Forum.

(CNN) -- Global unemployment is rising, with youth feeling the brunt, and companies need to find solutions to set jobseekers on "a clearer path to success," according to Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.

"It's a matter for government, it's a matter for business, it's a matter for civil society," Kent told CNN's Richard Quest recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"It's a matter for all of us. You cannot have a major part of society unhappy because they don't have anywhere to go to work. That cannot continue."

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The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency which oversees global labor standards, reported in January that 5.1 million people will be unable to find a job in 2013.

The ILO forecasts a total of 202 million people around the world will be unemployed this year -- a number equal to nearly two thirds of the entire population of the United States.

"We have to not go into a corner and wait for the storm to pass," said Kent, who stressed that companies must continue to invest in their businesses. "Without investment there will not be growth, and without growth there will not be employment."

Despite the 2008 global financial crisis, the eurozone's sovereign debt challenges and China's slower-growing economy, Kent says investment can still be justified and points to Coca-Cola's own recent practices.

In June 2012, Coke announced plans to return to Myanmar after a six decade absence.

"We certainly in the last four, five years have continued to invest in our business... have seen opportunities for growth all around the world despite all the difficulties in 2008 and 2009," he said. "And I think we look at the future in the next two, three years and we still see opportunities and we still will invest and create more jobs."

In 2012, developing economies in East Asia, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa contributed the bulk of the year's 4 million newly unemployed, according to the Global Employment Trends 2013 report.

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