G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs were to begin meeting in Rome late yesterday to discuss the global financial crisis amid stern warnings against protectionism.
Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa warned that his delegation would take a “resolute stance” against protectionism at the two-day meeting of the G7 economic powers, calling it “absolute evil.”
“For the US, Europe and other countries that sought liberalization from Japan to run to protectionism is an absolute evil,” Nakagawa told reporters before leaving for Rome.
Nakagawa said on Tuesday that the G7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — were expected to discuss the “Buy American” clause in a US economic stimulus package.
Japan, the EU and Canada have fiercely attacked the clause, warning it could start a global round of tit-for-tat trade reprisals and set a bad example for other countries mulling their own stimulus projects.
US senators voted last week to soften the clause, which barred spending on a project unless all the iron, steel and manufactured goods involved are made in the US.
Meanwhile, France has fiercely defended its plan to pump billions of dollars into its struggling auto sector against EU charges of protectionism.
The plan has been sharply criticized by Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency. Both countries host foreign-owned car factories on their territory.
The Italian finance ministry said ahead of the meeting: “Fostering a common framework for policy action and fighting protectionist pressures, which tend to gain strength in difficult economic conditions, will be the centerpiece of our work.”
Meanwhile, the World Bank said on Thursday that the global economic crisis was driving millions into poverty in developing countries and urged the G7 to address the issue in Rome.
The World Bank said new research found that up to 53 million more people have been trapped in poverty amid the spreading economic crisis exacerbated by a financial system meltdown in September.
World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who will be attending the meeting, said that world leaders must not forget the needs of the most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned governments against protectionism “through the back door” on Thursday, as they seek to prime their economies in the midst of the global economic downturn.
Speaking ahead of a G7 meeting, the IMF boss said it was unlikely that governments would resort to openly protectionist measures — notably raising tariff barriers — but he said there was a “really big” risk that the financial sector could be hit by a wave of protectionism.
“When governments provide some new resources or recapitalization of banks, they may add some comment saying that the money should stay at home,” Strauss-Kahn said.
He also said there was a risk of ‘”buy national” provisions being attached to stimulus packages, like that considered by US lawmakers.
“You may have in different stimulus packages some comment or amendment saying that this money also should be used to buy national products, and these kinds of things. So this kind of protectionism may come back,” he said.
His comments come as the US Congress takes the final steps toward approving a US$789 billion package aimed at stimulating the world’s largest economy.
“The risk of a ‘beggar your neighbor’ policy is still high, and I think it is part of our job to explain that in no way in a global crisis [should there] be a domestic or national solution: we have to find a global response,” he said.
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus