Friday, 3 April 2009

Petition to prevent protectionism and collapse of trade

As the G20 meeting opens, Jean-Pierre Lehmann, the Evian Group Founding Director, called for business leaders and academics from around the world to sign a petition to the G20 leaders for an urgent mobilisation of the business community to fight protectionism. The Text of the Petition is reproduced below. Interested readers can also find the text of the petition at Evian Group's website.

The Honourable Gordon Brown

Prime Minister, UK Government

Host, The G20 summit

Prime Minister

We are writing to you as global business executives, business school professors and business consultants a very strong message we would ask you to convey to the heads of government of the G20 meeting that you have convened on 2 April in London.

At this extremely perilous juncture of the global economy, we wish to express our total commitment to the maintenance and indeed improvement of the open global market economy and the rules-based multilateral trading system. Protectionism must not prevail.

We ask the G20 leaders to think back and to think forward. As the current state of the world economy is being labelled the worst since the 1930s, they should think back at the cataclysmic effects – especially in respect to employment – that the protectionist surge then inflicted.

We ask them to think forward. Over the course of the next decade there will be hundreds of millions of young people coming on to the labour markets in the developing world. This is perhaps the greatest challenge the world faces in the immediate future. Trade is by no means a guarantee that there will be sufficient growth for the required number of jobs to be created; but we can be sure that if trade continues to fall at the rate it is at present and if greater barriers are erected, the outlook becomes extremely bleak and millions, perhaps billions, will suffer.

The Declaration of the earlier G20 summit contained the right words on trade, especially paragraph 13 in the sub-section entitled "Commitment to an open global economy". Regrettably the words have not been translated into action. We believe it is imperative for the sake of the global economy and for the credibility of the G20 itself, that the Summit you will be chairing does ensure that action ensues.

We are petitioning the G20 to hear a resounding rejection of protectionism and an unambiguous commitment to an open global market economy along with specific measures and deadlines for implementation.  

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