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Saudi warns protectionism may worsen crisis

Riyadh, April 1, 2009

Saudi Arabia's finance minister warned against protectionism as G20 leaders gathered in London for a summit, saying in a newspaper report that restricting imports from emerging markets could worsen the global crisis.

G20 leaders pledged at a summit in November to fight protectionism, although 18 of their economies are named in a World Trade Organization report on measures taken in recent months that could be seen as restricting trade.

"With signs of recession and indications that levels of unemployment are rising in several countries as a result, indications of commerce protectionism have started to surface and this is a very worrying matter," Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf was quoted as saying in Asharq Al-Awsat.

"The harm to international commerce will be very big, especially to developing and emerging countries, especially those that rely on exports, which would put the whole world in a worse situation," he was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab daily.

World leaders are meeting in London this week to try to chart a way out of the worst global downturn since the 1930s.

The World Bank has announced a $50 billion programme to get international trade flowing again, while the International Monetary Fund also looks poised to get a huge cash boost to its ability to help countries being ravaged by the recession.

Al-Assaf told Reuters last week that top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia had not made any proposal to help the IMF fight the financial crisis by increasing its contribution in exchange for more voting rights.

He said all member states were discussing how to increase support for the fund. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the Arab world that is a member of the G20. - Reuters




Tags: Saudi | protectionism | G20 |

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