World Economy

Protectionist Policies a Threat to Development Goals

Protectionist Policies a Threat to Development GoalsProtectionist Policies a Threat to Development Goals

A German think-tank warns that the US, Russia and China are lagging in efforts to meet the United Nations 2030 development goals. A report by the Bertelsmann Foundation partly blames growing protectionist policies.

World leaders have been urged to strengthen efforts to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which were agreed by 193 member states in 2015, DW reported.

The appeal was made in a report released recently by the Bertelsmann Foundation, timed to coincide with the just concluded G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The report’s authors said many of the world’s richest countries are lagging behind on pledges to meet the Agenda 2030 objectives that they signed up to two years ago in New York.

The SDG roadmap includes ending global poverty and hunger while working towards quality health and education, clean energy and equality, among other issues.

 Rich Nations Not Cooperating

Bertelsmann said industrialized countries are not serving as role models against a background of growing protectionism and nationalism, as more and more leaders adopt “my country first” policies, in reference to US President Donald Trump’s call for more trade barriers to boost the American economy.

Such a lack of leadership is making it difficult for poorer countries to reach their own ambitious targets by 2030, the report said.

Out of the 157 states compared by Bertelsmann in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the US came in 42nd place, Russia ranked 62nd and China came 71st.

The report blamed income inequality, high consumption levels and carbon emissions for the low scores. As well as struggling with their own development goals, developed nations are holding back poorer countries, for example, through their geopolitical and economic policies, protection of tax havens and inadequate funding of development aid.

 Sanctions a ‘Covert Form’ of Protectionism

Ahead of the G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin restated his anger over sanctions levied against Moscow. In a guest article for a German newspaper, he warned that trade barriers are becoming the norm.

In an editorial published on Thursday in the German business daily Handelsblatt, Putin criticized “politically motivated” sanctions, describing them as a hidden form of trade protectionism.

He said that economic barriers were becoming widespread and a behavioral norm, adding that “unilaterally imposed and politically motivated sanctions on investment, trade and, in particular, technology transfer become its covert form.”

The Russian leader said that sanctions would not only lead nowhere but “contradict the G20 principles” of working together in the interests of all countries.

“I am convinced that only open trade relations, based on uniform norms and standards, can stimulate the growth of the world economy and promote an improvement in relations between states,” Putin added.

 Scandinavia Leads the Way

The countries most likely to meet the requirements are Scandinavian: Sweden ranks first, followed by Denmark and Finland.

The furthest from effective implementation are African states like the Central African Republic, Chad or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Among the G7 countries, only Germany and France can be found among the top ten performers.

The report’s results “highlight the need for urgent action on the part of G20 countries in making sustainable development a reality both within and beyond their borders,” said Jeffrey Sachs, SDSN director, in a statement.

“If the world is to achieve the SDGs, all countries must take up the goals as part of their national development strategies and ensure that they take responsibility for their impact on the rest of the world.”

 Stark Warning

Aart De Geus, chairman of the Bertelsmann Foundation warned G20 leaders meeting in Hamburg this weekend against repeating modern history.

“Protectionism is a one-way street which could not bring us back to the implementation of Agenda 2030, but back to 1930. The G20 states should set a clear signal for global goals and against national egoisms in Hamburg,” he said.


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