APEC Business Leaders Warn vs Rising Protectionism

Manila Bulletin, November 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

APEC Business Leaders Warn vs Rising Protectionism


By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

LIMA - APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has urged world leaders convening here for the annual APEC Leaders' Meeting to remove trade barriers instead of adopting protectionism and inward-looking policies, warning that doing so will only heightened economic problems faced by the 21-member economies.

The business advisory group to APEC leaders issued this warning as they raised concerns that many governments, including the 'Brexit' and the recent election, referring to the new US-President Donald Trump, are looking to impose new tariff and non-tariff barriers amid a growing public disquiet about the impact of freer trade and investment.

"A retreat into protectionism and inward looking policies is not a solution to the economic problems the region faces," ABAC said in a statement.

"In the face of growing public disquiet about the impact of freer trade and investment, business leaders are concerned that many governments are looking to impose new tariff and non-tariff barriers," said Juan Raffo, ABAC Chair for 2016. "Protectionist actions make it harder for business to play its part in creating employment and raising living standards across the region," said Raffo.

ABAC explained that regional economic integration can be made to work better and its benefits more obvious. If governments adopt policies which enhance the capacity of economies, their communities and people will be better able to take advantage of more open and competitive markets.

"Brexit and recent election results in both developed and developing economies seem to have served as a referendum on the merits of economic integration. They have created an unprecedented uncertainty about the direction of the global economy. They appear to call into question the successful model of economic integration that has been responsible for rapid growth and the spread of prosperity around the world," Raffo added.

"We accept the need to do more to help convince our citizens that economic integration is directly linked to expanding prosperity and that open markets - enhanced by new technologies and ways of doing business - have lifted millions out of poverty. Yet we also know not everyone has shared equally in this dividend and many feel left behind. While social safety nets can provide temporary relief and assistance in adapting to the new circumstances, it is structural economic reform that can address any negative consequences on a longer term and permanent basis.

"Sound policy and regulatory quality will enhance the ability of business - both large and small - to make the most of opportunities for all that more open trade and investment generate. …

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