World Economy

Business Leaders Urge G20 to Resist Protectionism

Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, in Nov. 2015.Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, in Nov. 2015.

A group of business executives has urged the Group of 20 leading economies to resist the temptation to take protectionist measures and to foster international economic cooperation.

Germany took over the G20 presidency last week, a platform Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to use to safeguard multilateral cooperation under threat following Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, Reuters reported.

The B20, the G20’s business outreach arm, said popular concerns about trade liberalization should be taken seriously but that “seemingly easy solutions risk having long-term negative consequences for business, workers, and consumers.”

“We urge governments to resist the temptation to resort to protectionist measures such as trade barriers or investment restrictions,” the B20 added in a statement dated Dec. 8, a copy of which Reuters obtained on Friday.

“The challenges of globalization cannot be solved within national borders,” the group added. “The G20 is an important forum for international economic cooperation.”

The statement was signed by corporate executives including the CEOs of chemicals group BASF, Deutsche Bank and e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Meanwhile, German officials, while acknowledging privately that they will not have an easy ride leading the G20, stress that the motto for their presidency—”Shaping an Interconnected World”—indicates they want to take globalization forward through international cooperation rather than roll it back.

Nationalism and isolationism are on the rise globally. With Germany chairing the next G20 summit, Berlin is hoping to persuade the key industrial and developing countries to change direction.

As Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said in Berlin during his welcome speech to colleagues, as well as the heads of the central banks of the most important industrial and developing countries, “The desire for peace and a better world is also the hope of all attending the G20.”

This is a noble aspiration at a time when the world seems to be beset by crisis. And it is generally agreed that it’s the big players among the G20–who increasingly seem to be working against each other, rather than with each other–who have significantly contributed to the global crises.

Apart from the G7, made up of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA, countries in the G20 include Russia, as well as the large developing countries, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Further countries are Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union as a whole.


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