Keep markets open during crisis, EU tells US

18 March 2009 15:46  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--The US must keep its markets open for trade during the economic downturn and not resort to protectionism, said EU trade commissioner Catherine Ashton on Wednesday.

Speaking in Washington, Ashton said she had “seen doubts creeping in here and there about the US commitment to open markets” and urged US president Barack Obama and newly appointed US trade representative Ron Kirk to “adhere to the principles of free trade”.

America knows that it has everything to lose and nothing to gain from turning inwards,” said Ashton.

“There is talk of raising tariffs and non-tariff barriers, of unfairly subsidising exports, of introducing local content requirements in stimulus packages," Ashton added. "At the moment it is difficult to assess how economically important these are, but they carry a real risk of a widespread protectionist backlash. The only result of this in my view would be an even larger decline in world trade."

In 2008 the EU enjoyed a surplus of €63bn ($82bn) in goods traded with the US, importing €186 billion while exporting €249bn, according to the European Commission. 

This trade flow was dominated by manufactured goods and in 2007 more than two-fifths of trade with the US were machinery and vehicles, with chemicals and other manufactured products each accounting for more than a fifth of trade, said the Commission.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Philippa Jones
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