World Trade Week UK – Defending Open Trade

Lord Mandelson

Lord MandelsonAn early-warning system to help guard against nations turning to protectionist policies during the global recession is launched today as part of the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to open trade.

Speaking at an international conference to mark the start of the first-ever World Trade Week UK, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said that defending open trade remained the most powerful means of rebuilding global prosperity and fighting global poverty.

Lord Mandelson underlined the UK’s commitment to keep global trade flowing as he announced that the UK is co-financing a new independent anti-protectionism watchdog. Global Trade Alert will unite a worldwide network of think tanks to provide governments with independent analysis of trade-distorting policies. It will produce evidence of the damage protectionist policies are doing and advise on the least protectionist ways to provide support and stability to economies through the downturn.

Douglas Alexander demonstrated the UK Government’s determination that the poorest countries should be assisted in the global economic downturn as he announced that funding for Aid for Trade has increased to £800 million – an increase of 60 per cent since 2005.

Aid for Trade funding has been spent delivering a range of new projects, such as the North South Corridor which is helping to improve transport and trading links across eight African countries by upgrading roads and improving border crossings

Lord Mandelson said:

"Calls for protection from imports are always made most loudly during times of recession.

"New barriers to global trade are a sure-fire way to make the global recession longer and more painful that it might otherwise be. Now more than ever, we need to stand firm and defend open trade.

"The Global Trade Alert will complement the work of the World Trade Organisation and others on behalf of the G20, as well as advocating the importance of free trade."

Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander said:

"An economic downturn hits the world’s poorest people the hardest and it’s therefore more important than ever that we keep international trade flowing at this time.

"World Trade Week UK is an important opportunity to demonstrate how vital trade is in helping people in developing countries to earn their way out of poverty.

"Aid for Trade means that we can help many more people across Africa to have a better opportunity to make a living through trade by improving access to markets, upgrading transport and infrastructure and making borders more efficient."

The Global Trade Alert will complement the World Trade Organisation’s G20 commitment to monitor protectionism by providing real-time alerts. The website will monitor not just tariff barriers – which are heavily constrained by WTO rules – but non-tariff barriers and national crisis measures adopted by countries in response to the downturn.

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