Friday, April 3, 2009

Freedom to Trade Coalition holds G20 to Account

Press Release:

1000+ Leading Economists, Policy Makers and other Distinguished Persons Call on Governments to Reject Protectionism and Eliminate Trade Barriers

Open letter stresses free trade promotes prosperity and peace, warns that protectionism prolongs recession and could lead to war

Freedom to Trade Coalition holds G20 to Account

Hong Kong, 3 April 2009 – The Freedom to Trade Coalition, comprising over 60 civil society organisations from 44 countries, launched an open letter calling on all governments to eliminate trade barriers.

Signatories include Nobel Prize winning economist Vernon Smith; former US Secretary of State George Schultz; former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar MEP; former Finance Ministers of New Zealand, Chile, Ukraine, and Poland; former Kremlin chief economist Andrei Illarionov; noted Chinese economists Xia Yeliang (Peking) and Mao Shoulong (Renmin; Alexander Graf Lamsdorff MEP; and many other eminent economists, philosophers and other academics. In total, over 2000 people have so far signed the letter, including over 1000 academics and the total is growing.

Peter Wong, the Executive Director of The Lion Rock Institute, signed the petition while promoting it in Hong Kong adding, “I am thankful for the coalition - protectionism creates poverty and while never a good direction for any country, it is the worst policy any government could adopt right now.”

Moreover, mindful of the tragic consequences of the protectionism of the 1920s and 30s, which contributed to the Great Depression and to the poverty and nationalism that led to the Second World War, the letter observes that “Protectionism destroys peace.” By contrast:

“Trade promotes peace … by uniting different peoples in a common culture of commerce – a daily process of learning others’ languages, social norms, laws, expectations, wants, and talents … [and] by encouraging people to build bonds of mutually beneficial cooperation. Just as trade unites the economic interests of Paris and Lyon, of Boston and Seattle, of Calcutta and Mumbai, trade also unites the economic interests of Paris and Portland, of Boston and Berlin, of Calcutta and Copenhagen – of the peoples of all nations who trade with each other.”

The open letter is available at which features news stories, exclusive webcasts, and statements by signatories.

The Freedom to Trade Coalition has committed itself to monitoring the actions of governments around the world – and will challenge attempts to institute protectionist policies.

Related Media Coverage: REUTERS Top economists urge G20 to embrace free trade



The Lion Rock Institute, founded in 2004, is a public policy think tank advocating free market solutions for Hong Kong's policy challenges. For more information, visit

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