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Gordon Brown Warns Against Protectionist Backlash

PM Warns Against Protectionist Backlash

Gordon Brown has warned the international community against taking protectionist economic measures in reaction to the current global financial crisis.

Speaking to the Institute of Directors in London, the PM promised to work towards the most open EU market possible, a better EU US trade relationship, reform of agricultural subsidies and a global trade deal that resists protectionism. Stessing the importance of current trade negotiations, Mr Brown said that if a deal is not reached soon then none would be forthcoming "for some time".

Instead of a protectionist backlash, the world should move towards "flexible free-trade economies" that can adapt to the "restructuring" of the global economy, he said.

Mr Brown acknowledged the severity of the current financial crisis, with food prices rising, reserves falling, the US housing market struggling and the International Monetary Fund predicting a US recession. In this context, the UK would be an "aggressive advocate" of free-trade and argue that the rise of Asian economies, notably India and China, need not be "a zero-sum game".

The PM said he would take long-term decisions aimed at maintaining the UK's position as the most open free-trade nation in the world and a "hub of international business" - measures such as improving transport infrastructure and improving higher education.

Further afield, the UK and France will put forward proposals for a new "action plan" in an effort to assist Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in the UK and across the EU face the credit crunch, the PM said.

ENDS

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