The Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, Victor K. Fung, last week expressed concern about rising world protectionism and lackluster progress on free trade negotiations. The combination, he argued, would imperil the world’s fragile economic recovery and undermine progress already made towards emerging from the current downturn.
Chairman Fung made his remarks as he addressed the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in Singapore. Although he praised public stimulus spending around the world for laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth, he criticized the G20 governments, especially the United States and China, for adding trade barriers. Protectionism, he told the group, undermines successful economic recovery, and economic nationalism in the US-China trade relationship threatens to be particularly damaging.
The failure to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations also signals lackluster commitment to free trade and imposes another potential obstacle to worldwide recovery, Chairman Fung argued. Although praising the G20’s ostensibly strong commitment to Doha, Chairman Fung chastised the world community for failing to conclude an agreement despite eight years of trying.
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