Obama warns against protectionism, trade barriers

April 15th, 2009 - 11:47 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 15 (IANS) Cautioning against protectionism and trade barriers that “hurt us all in the end”, US President Barack Obama has said a pledge taken by the Group of 20 major economies to avoid such measures and other actions were necessary pieces to the economic “recovery puzzle”.

Efforts to take the economy from “recession to recovery” are “starting to generate signs of economic progress” but more tough times are ahead, Obama said Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, outlining the steps his administration is taking to confront the economic crisis.

But economic improvements do “not mean that hard times are over — 2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America’s economy…The severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain before it ends”.

Asserting that the current recession was not caused by a normal downturn in the business cycle, he said “it was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street”.

To coordinate a global response to this global recession, each nation at the G20 Summit in London had undertaken significant stimulus to spur demand, he noted.

“All agreed to pursue tougher regulatory reforms” and triple the lending capacity of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and provide direct assistance to developing nations and vulnerable populations “because America’s success depends on whether other nations have the ability to buy what we sell”.

The G20 nations, he noted, also “pledged to avoid the trade barriers and protectionism that hurts us all in the end”. They had decided to meet again in the fall to gauge progress and take additional steps if necessary.

“So all of these actions - the Recovery Act, the bank capitalisation program, the housing plan, the strengthening of the non-bank credit market, the auto plan, and our work at the G20 - have been necessary pieces of the recovery puzzle,” Obama said.

Obama’s speech, outlining what has been done and what still needs to be done to get the economy back on track, came a day after he declared that his stimulus plan is “starting to work” and that transportation projects are coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Obama signed into law his $787 billion economic stimulus plan in mid-February, calling it the “beginning of the end” of the country’s economic woes.

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