Resisting Trade Sanctions
November 11, 2010 - LM Editorial
As we noted in yesterday’s posting, the World Bank reports that the easing of regulations has permitted U.S. shippers with greater access to foreign markets. But the organization’s president, Robert Zoellick, has also cautioned against U.S. protectionism.
In a letter originally printed in the Financial Times, he observed that with a new Congress, the U.S. will need to address structural spending and ballooning debt that will tax future growth. President Barack Obama has also spoken of plans to boost competitiveness and revive free-trade agreements.
According to Zoellick, the U.S. and China could agree on specific, mutually reinforcing steps to boost growth.
“Based on this, the two might also agree on a course for renminbi appreciation, or a move to wide bands for exchange rates,” he said. “The U.S., in turn, could commit to resist tit-for-tat trade actions; or better, to advance agreements to open markets.”
Among his other points:
*Major economies, starting with the G7, should agree to forego currency intervention, except in rare circumstances agreed to by others. Other G7 countries may wish to boost confidence by committing to structural growth plans as well.
*These steps would assist emerging economies to adjust to asymmetries in recoveries by relying on flexible exchange rates and independent monetary policies. Some may need tools to cope with short-term hot money flows. The G20 could develop norms to guide these measures.
*The G20 should support growth by focusing on supply-side bottlenecks in developing countries. These economies are already contributing to half of global growth, and their import demand is rising twice as fast as that of advanced economies. The G20 should give special support to infrastructure, agriculture and developing healthy, skilled labor forces. The World Bank Group and the regional development banks could be the instruments of building multiple poles of future growth based on private sector development.
*The G20 should complement this growth recovery program with a plan to build a co-operative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions. This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves towards internationalization and then an open capital account.
And his most thoughtful observation might be this: “with talk of currency wars and disagreements over the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing, the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Seoul this week is shaping up as the latest test of international co-operation. So we should ask: co-operation to what end?”
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