Pascal LAMY, in charge of the WTO (The World Trade Organization), shed some light on the chosen theme of ‘globalisation and protectionism', a central issue that is currently at the very heart of the economic debate.

Globalisation is often “waved like a red flag”, and it is easy, too easy in fact, to make it the scapegoat for all every single problem that arises. Given the fact that we are currently seeing an economic slowdown, protectionist pressures are increasing on all fronts, and attention needs to be drawn to the dangers of this. These risks are well known, of course, especially the risk of a whole series of retaliation measures being implemented in the form of a domino effect, and this would inevitably have the same consequences as those observed in the Thirties. But history shows that, in spite of everything, it is important to highlight these dangers and the perversity of the “chain reaction” caused by protectionism. The election campaign, which has begun in the United States, will undoubtedly stimulate the level of isolationist rhetoric. The significant differences between China and the European Union countries, in terms of both the environment and working conditions, are often used as an example when denouncing free-trade.

There are undoubtedly some practices that could be improved, but to what extent can fair-trade ruin free-trade? And what of the rising number of bi-lateral agreements? Are they in line with the concept of multi-lateralism, as promoted by the WTO? And what of the impact of the world's trade imbalances on exchange parities? And finally, what of the rise in the level of the sovereign wealth funds? All these questions will be looked at by Mr Pascal LAMY [...]

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