Key Points:

  • In March 2009 the Centre for Development and Enterprise and Business Leadership South Africa hosted a dinner discussion with senior business and government leaders and leading South African and international experts about trade policy and the spectre of protectionism amid the current economic crisis.
  • Three experts were invited to lead the discussion:They were Robert Lawrence, of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University , Peter Draper, head of the Development through Trade Programme of the South African Institute for International Affairs, and David Unterhalter, professor of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand and chairman of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organisation.The frank and wide-ranging conversation is summarised in this publication.
  • For two generations, the United States has led the global economy and promoted a more open international trading system. It is alarming that signs of increasing protectionism are emerging in America in the wake of the economic crisis.
  • During his election campaign, President Barack Obama attacked the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and his initial dealings with Canadian and Mexican officials suggest that his administration will have protectionist leanings.
  • It is significant that in his first meeting with a foreign president, Felipe Calderon of Mexico, one of the issues on the agenda was ‘global standards’.
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