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30 May 2009

Concerns grow over trade protectionism amidst crisis

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Asian governments and international agencies met in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s tourist hub, Friday to push for more trade in the face of the global financial crisis, reported AFP.

In statements from the meeting organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), speakers said they were worried that countries will increasingly engage in protectionism.

“In order for Asia to significantly contribute to the world with its open regionalism and growth, each Asian country should refrain from taking protectionist measures,” said ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda.

WTO director-general Pascal Lamy noted that world trade is expected to contract by nine percent in 2009, which would be the first drop in more than 25 years, but said “trade is an essential ingredient to exit the crisis.”

“We can generate the right peer pressure in order to try collectively to preempt this threat of a shift to world protectionism,” Lamy told the meeting.

“One country’s exports are another country’s imports, and the other way around.”

Lamy and Kuroda announced that Cambodia and Japan will prepare a report on an Aid for Trade initiative to speed up trade reforms in poor countries.

The meeting organisers said Asia’s 22 poorest economies account for only 0.3 percent of world exports, a level that has barely increased over the past 25 years.


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