Key Points:

  • 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 2008 economic crisis.
  • Protectionism is a dangerous game. It is a policy that is not only negative in itself, but causes wider negative consequences. Protectionism is politically popular, but it will make the economic crisis longer and deeper.
  • A serious commitment to open trade is needed to mitigate the effects of the current economic crisis and to accelerate the recovery process. The alternative is that we risk spiralling into trade wars that could impede growth in South Africa and the rest of the world for years to come.
  • The combination of a weak state and industry groups aiming to pursue their interests through un-transparent processes is a recipe for bad policy-making. There should be no reason why certain industries should get to meet The Department of Trade and Industry in secret.
  • Everyone should realise that protecting open trade and multilateralism is in their interest, and in fact, developing countries actually have a much higher stake in a rules-based system that the most powerful trading countries.