28 January 2009

WTO Director General warns of protectionism

It's hardly surprising, all of the "bailouts" funded by stealing from future taxpayers are raising alarm bells in the mind of WTO Director General Pascal Lamy.

According to Reuters, Lamy said that "it was critical to keep commerce flowing at a time when overall economic growth slows. "It has become more urgent for the WTO to strengthen multilateral disciplines that will reduce the scope for increased trade restriction," he said, repeating his call for countries to finalise the Doha round, a global free trade accord that has been under negotiation since 2001".

The WTO has noted a growing list of countries whose response to the recession is to further hinder trade - when the last time this was done, in the 1930s, the result was disastrous.

Some of those measures include:

-- India raised tariffs on some imported steel products

-- Ecuador raised tariffs on 940 products including butter, turkey, crackers, caramels, blenders, cell phones, eyeglasses, sailboats, building materials and transport equipment

-- Indonesia limited the number of ports and airports serving as entry points for certain imports, such as electronics, garments, toys, footwear, and food and beverages

-- Argentina imposed licensing requirements on products such as auto parts, textiles, TVs, toys, shoes, and leather goods

-- The European Commission said it would re-introduce export subsidies for butter, cheese, and whole and skim milk powder.

The Greens call this "economic sovereignty" when it is only sovereignty for the state, not for those producing or consuming - they get no choice.

It is critical that John Key fight hard to push for a renewed Doha Round, and for the Obama Administration to listen. Sadly, it has precious few credentials from any who believe in free trade, unlike the Bush Administration. Not that the Obamaphiles noticed or cared.

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