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General Assembly President calls on States to resist ‘temptation of protectionism’

General Assembly President calls on States to resist ‘temptation of protectionism’

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly
Countries should resist the “temptation of protectionism” because free trade and the broader process of globalization have brought people closer together and play an important role in reducing poverty, the General Assembly President has told an international meeting on democracy and development.

Speaking last night to the opening of the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, held in the Qatari capital, Srgjan Kerim said that free trade agreements have become “the engine of regional integration,” citing the examples of pacts involving the European Union (EU), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Democracy fosters openness and open societies tend to trade more and freely,” Mr. Kerim said, stressing that countries can always achieve more when they work together rather than when they operate alone.

“Globalization has further accentuated and strengthened the nexus of relations between democracy, development and free trade, increasing our mutual interdependence, the complexity and density of relationships between our economies, societies, politics and individuals; and, the speed at which we need to face changes and interact with each other.

“This has led to a proliferation of actors in the international arena. Influential individuals, civil society groups, think tanks, corporations and religious institutions operate internationally and have created new social and economic networks.”

Today’s biggest global problems, including climate change, terrorism and sustainable development, can only be solved when countries cooperate in “a new kind of internationalism that puts the well-being of the individual and communities at its centre.”

Mr. Kerim warned that “the temptation of protectionism remains to this very day. It needs to be resisted, all the more so as free and fair trade also has its immediate benefits. It is essential to reducing poverty.”

While in Doha, Mr. Kerim also held bilateral meetings with Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and with the country’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al Thani.

The leaders discussed the role of Qatar in the work of the UN and the priority activities of the 192-member Assembly during this session, including preparations leading up to the review conference of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus on financing for development. This gathering is slated to take place in Doha from 29 November to 2 December.

At the Forum in Doha, the Assembly President also held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.