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ADB Urges Support for More Open Trade

Yasuyuki Sawada says it is difficult to say if protectionism was good or bad and he did not want to make any judgment
China is shifting from an export driven economic model to more internal demand driven model.China is shifting from an export driven economic model to more internal demand driven model.

The Asian Development Bank Wednesday said the emerging orientation in the US and Europe for protectionism on trade is “worrisome” but not realistic enough to break the global economy.

A day before finance ministers and central bank governors meet for the ADB’s 50th annual meeting, the multilateral agency’s chief economist, Yasuyuki Sawada, said it was “difficult” to say if protectionism was “good or bad” and he did not want to make any judgment, PTI reported.

“This emerging orientation of US and Europe is a little bit worrisome situation but what I am saying is it is unrealistic that global economy will move towards a broken economy that was happening during intra-war period... I don’t see that happening,” he said at the bank’s annual meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

“I think ADB’s position is, more open trade and more open investment climate will be beneficial for all the countries and economies. In that respect, I think we should support more open trade regime,” he told a media briefing.

Citing the example of China which is shifting itself from export driven economic model to more internal demand driven model, he said that in his opinion there was a trend in Asia that “domestic consumption and investment play a much more important role than external demand”. This trend, however, does not deny the importance of trade, Sawada said.

“India’s growth rate is picking up, 7.4% this year and 7.6% next year,” he said.

Asked why there has been no strong statement from ADB about protectionist measures, he said, “We don’t think it is a realistic scenario to consider that the global economy, because of the policy changes in the US and Europe, will return back to the broken economy.”

ADB, he said, emphasizes on more open trade and more free movement of capital to all countries and it should play an important role to push open trade and investment regime.

  Avoid Resistance

Last month, a communiqué from the IMF’s steering committee in Washington dropped a pledge to resist protectionism on trade. Omitting its October statement to “resist all forms of protectionism”, IMF merely stated that officials are “working to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies”.

“If protectionist pressures increase, the combination of declining global trade and growth would increase corporate vulnerability and borrowing costs that may lead to financial stability risks in these economies,” it said in its Global Financial Stability Report released earlier this month.

In March, the finance ministers of G20 nations in their communiqué dropped the pledge to resist protectionism to suit the demand of the United States. There are fears that increasing protectionism in the US like tightening of visa regime and insistence on using American products may adversely impact global trade and investments.

ADB’s chief economist, however, said: “People seem to be worried about this protectionist sentiment, but I think this is unlikely (that) the global economy will become like a broken economy before World War-II. I don’t think that is happening. That will never happen… that is an unrealistic scenario”.

Last month, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is scheduled to attend the ADB meeting later in the week, had sounded a note of caution on protectionism, saying the world should debate whether it would make the global economy more efficient or sluggish.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel too had in his comments on the world economy stated that data pointed to a broad-based upswing in global growth, though risks remain, such as protectionism and geopolitics.

There is an international push-back against trade talk emanating from the US, Patel had stated last month, defending the benefits of an open trading system.

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