WTO chief warns against protectionism

September 24th, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Sep 24 (Xinhua) The governments must learn from the past and realise that protectionism and isolationism do not work in the current global financial and economic turmoil, the chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned Wednesday. “One of the important lessons of the Great Depression, which we must never forget, is that protectionism and economic isolationism do not work,” Pascal Lamy told a WTO public forum in Geneva.

“They are policies of the past, which should have no place in our future,” he said.

Lamy said many media are comparing the current global financial crisis to the the Great Depression in the 1930s. And in such crises, policy-makers tend to protect their producers by shutting borders to imported goods or services.

But the temptation to shut borders does exactly the opposite, he said.

According to the WTO chief, what is needed in times of crises is to enable consumers to purchase more for less.

“There is no doubt therefore that the current hurricane that has hit financial markets must not dissuade the international community from pursuing greater economic integration and openness,” he said.

Lamy also highlighted the importance of concluding the Doha Round of global trade negotiations, which could bring down trade barriers and promote development.

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