Western states blamed for ‘protectionism’

Manila, June 21:

A senior UN official today slammed western Europe for ‘blatant’ protectionism as corporate raiders from Asia and the developing world launch more and more takeovers bids for Western companies.

UN Conference for Trade and Development secretary-general Supachai Panitchpakdi singled out hosts Germany’s call at the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations’ summit in earlier this month to regulate the trillion-dollar hedge fund industry.

“Investment protectionism is becoming more pronounced these days that there are more takeovers and mergers that are being executed by Asian transnationals.

I would call it the new generation of globalisation,” said Supachai, the Thai former head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“Firms from the South are taking over firms from the North. And here you’re seeing a lot of resistance, reluctance. But it’s happening not only in steel but also in energy, in anything, even in real estate and consumer goods.”

He described the phenomenon as a ‘reverse takeover’ and stressed ‘you cannot avoid that’. European politicians tend to wrap their efforts in the mantle of “economic patriotism, which is

just another semantic for bl-atant protectionism for investment,” Supachai said.

This “should not be tolerated at the global level.”

Doha deal still possible:

MANILA: A global trade deal is still within reach by 2008 after years of fruitless talks and despite possible domestic pressure from next year’s US presidential election, former WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi said.

He said there has been recent movement in the deadlocked negotiations because “some of the figures that used to be off the table are now on the table.”

He cited discussions ab-out ‘domestic support’ in US as well as ‘Swiss formula’ for import tariff reduction. — AFP