ASEAN, EU buck protectionism amid free trade efforts

MANILA-- The ASEAN and the European Union (EU) have raised concerns on protectionist and inward-looking policy stances of some world leaders amid the efforts of open and free trade.

These issues were discussed by ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia MalmstrAlm during the 15th AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations on Friday at the Conrad Manila, Pasay City.

In a joint press conference following the consultations, Philippines Trade Secretary and AEM Chair Ramon Lopez said global growth could be sustained through a more integrated economies.

Cooperation to reduce and to further remove barriers to trade would also promote greater flow of goods and services globally in the years to come, said Lopez.

However, protectionist views of some world leaders pose threats to improving trade and global growth, according to the trade official.

"All of us have been hearing some rhetoric, statements from other world leaders. But I guess, the question is whether or not those be translated to actual policies and rules that will really curtail globalization or would be anti-globalization moves," Lopez noted.

"Certainly, those statements create a certain degree of uncertainty," he added.

MalmstrAlm said benefits of economic integration and globalization should trickle down to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and create more jobs.

"Closing borders, building walls, raising tariff -- that's not a solution; that will reinforce the problem," MalmstrAlm stressed.

During the trade officials' consultation, ASEAN and EU reaffirmed commitments to strengthen multilateral trading system and to the World Trade Organization.

Both parties have also expressed interest to resume negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Source: Philippines News Agency