Turkish minister warns against ‘protectionism’ at G20 summit
Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan has warned that protectionist precautions by some countries against short-term economic problems put the whole world trade system at risk.
Speaking at the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy in Tsukuba, Japan on June 9, Pekcan stated that trade has the role of locomotive for the development of countries and that increasing trade tensions and policies that limit trade create serious threats to the realization of inclusive and sustainable development.
The minister said such problems would hamper the benefits of trade.
“An open, free and rule-based multilateral trading system is a prerequisite for achieving business advantages,” she told a gathering on the second day of the event.
“It is understandable that policymakers take protective measures in response to some short-term challenges. However, these measures pave the way for increased protectionism, which disrupts global supply chains and reduces confidence in the system. Therefore, we must make wise decisions. We cannot sacrifice our future for short-term interests.”
Pekcan noted that businesses are the most important institution that contributes to the efforts of reaching sustainable growth targets, adding that investment is indispensable for the same purpose.
The minister said a fair and free investment environment needs to be created; hence the recommendations of the B20 (Business 20, the private sector’s voice of the G20 community) should be carefully evaluated.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the key players in the economy, Pekcan said, adding that strengthening their integration with the international trade system is a major goal for the Turkish government.
“Therefore, we believe that supporting our SMEs should be an important part of inclusive policies,” she said.
Speaking in another session, Pekcan said the growth of international trade is the biggest power behind many countries’ growth, but unfortunately, protectionism and unilateral custom duties on trade have been shaping global trade policies.
Pekcan stated that the introduction of restrictive measures on trade had a negative impact on the living standards of the world population and the confidence between exporters and investors, noting that the uncertainty stemming from increasing trade tensions is the main reason behind the limited increase in trade and investment.
“G20 offers us a valuable platform to discuss policies that could contribute to easing trade tensions,” she said.
“In today’s world where production processes are intertwined globally, the importance of an open, non-discriminatory and predictable trade and investment environment has increased more than ever.”
Pekcan said the most important element for international trade is the rules-based multilateral trade system, which has the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its core.
“Immediate action is needed to deal with the crisis facing the WTO,” said the minister.
“Turkey is a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system. We see WTO reform discussions as an opportunity to strengthen the organization by keeping it up-to-date.”