Message to the G20: Defeating protectionism begins at home
On 16 November last year, G20 leaders made a commitment to resist protectionism. According to the World Bank, by the end of February 2009, seventeen of the twenty had already ‘implemented 47 measures whose effect is to restrict trade.’ When the leaders meet in Pittsburgh on 24 September 2009, they will have an opportunity to review their commitment and decide how best to strengthen it.
In a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Bill Carmichael, Saul Eslake and Mark Thirlwell argue that the advice that G20 leaders have received to date fails to deal with the underlying causes of protectionism. Protectionism results from decisions taken by governments at home, for domestic reasons. As a consequence, any effective response to protectionism needs to begin at home. The authors therefore propose that G20 leaders should sponsor domestic transparency arrangements in individual countries, in order to provide public advice about the economy-wide costs of domestic protection.