Special Report: Global Financial Crisis
Special Report: China's Development
by Li Jie, Ding Yi, Du Jing
BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- It is important for
nations to shun protectionism and coordinate efforts to establish an open global
trade system, seven world political leaders and business elites told Xinhua on
the sidelines of the China Development Forum 2009.
Murilo Portugal, deputy-managing director of the
International Monetary Fund, said it was very important that the leaders of the
G20 made a common pledge last November in Washington to not take protectionist
"If they didn't make the pledge, the situation would
have been worse now," he said, adding that an early conclusion of the Doha Round
of talks is of great importance to boost trade liberalization and shore up
confidence in the global economy.
"But what is needed to improve the situation, I think
it is basically two things," Portugal said. "One is to move ahead with the
reform of financial system. And second, to maintain the accommodation of
monetary policies, fiscal policies, stimulus policies by those countries which
have the fiscal space to do so."
Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at
Columbia University, said "it's very important for world leaders to honor the
spirit that they should not have protectionism. But there are protectionist
measures already. Seventeen of the G20 countries have undertaken them since G20
summit last November. So, clearly, something more needs to be done."
"Protectionism is a real risk at the economy," said
Ian Davis, global managing director of McKinsey and Company. "Protectionism
destroys jobs, destroys wealth, and also increases the risk of geopolitical
tension and the risk of terrorism."
"When there is economic stress and people find
themselves in economic difficulty, there is a tendency to pull back and to say
we're going to engage in protecting area industries. I think that is
understandable, but it's a wrong policy," said William Cohen, former U.S.
secretary of defense, citing the "Buy American" clause in the U.S. stimulus
"It's certainly bad for economics, bad for politics
ultimately...so I want to speak out against protectionism, against this kind of
nationalism," said Cohen, who is currently chairman and CEO of the Cohen Group.
"The goal of the Doha Round negotiations and other
types of economic summits is to reduce trade barriers, not to add them. It's a
very difficult time. The G20 is going to talk about not resorting to
protectionism at the time of economic stress," he added.
Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asia Institute
at the National University of Singapore, called on all countries and regions to
enhance cooperation to eliminate trade barriers and build a reciprocal win-win
world trade system.
"An open and fair trade system is important in
fighting protectionism, which is also a major goal that G20 should achieve," he
Talking about resisting protectionism on theoretical
and philosophical levels is not enough, he said, noting that only
system-building can solve the problem.
Dirk Messner, director of the German Development
Institute, said the G20summit in London next week should publish "a strong
statement to avoid any protectionism.
He added that it is also important to conclude the
Doha Round of talks in 2009 to avoid any new manners of protectionism.
Masahiko Aoki, an honorary professor at Stanford
University, said that although the economic crisis is unfortunate, it gave birth
to a new way of cooperation, such as the upcoming G20 summit.
The G20 summit will bring together advanced economies
and emerging ones such as China, India and Russia and will be a good platform
for discussions, said Aoki, director of the Virtual Center for Advanced Studies
in Institution, Tokyo Foundation.
"By this way I think protectionism sentiment is going
to be controlled," he said. "Protectionism usually comes from special interest
groups of economy, like automobile industry and agriculture. International
pressure is very important. It can provide a good instrument for politicians to
deal with domestic interest groups."