Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

What Are the World Leaders Promoting: Trade or Protectionism?

The National Post contains a great post by Terence Corcoran entitled "The loopy Obama-Sarkozy axis of trade".  He is right on point. Corcoran observes "on trade issues that [Obama and Sarkozy] promoted ideas that should be ringing bells".

Corcoran includes a recent quotes of President Sarkozy (at Davos) and President Obama (in the State of the Union Address):

Sarkozy: “It will not be possible to emerge from the crisis and protect ourselves against future crises, if we perpetuate the imbalances that are the root of the problem. Countries with trade surpluses must consume more and improve the living standards and social protection of their citizens. Countries with deficits must make an effort to consume a little less and repay their debts.”

Obama: “We need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we’re launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.”

Let's add Prime Minister Harper's statement on January 28, 2010 at the Davos World Economic Forum calling for "enlightened sovereignty":  The Globe & Mail summarizes the statement as follows:

Harper: “... in that brief parting of the veil, I saw world leadership at its best, a glimpse of a hopeful future — one where we act together for the good of all.  The world we have been trying to build since 1945.  The world we want for our children and grandchildren.  It can be done if we act together.  This is ‘enlightened sovereignty'  .I believe our understanding in Washington allowed us to avoid the cataclysm that otherwise really would have come to pass.  But an agreement to act is just a start.  It is acting on the agreement that matters.

So, when the G-20 resumes in Toronto, the discussion should be less about new agreements than accountability for existing ones.  Less about lofty promises than real results.  Less about narrow self-interest in sovereignty’s name, than an expanded view of mutual-interest in which there is room for all to grow and prosper.  Enlightened sovereignty, then, the natural extension of enlightened self-interest.

To be succinct, the real test of the G-20 going forward, is that it develops and sustains among its members a sense of shared responsibility towards the global economy." (for the full speech, please go to -

Reading all three statements made over the last few days we can guess and fear the changes on the horizon. However, I cannot predict whether the actions that will be taken will be free trade or protectionist.  Are free trade agreements to look different in the future and contain non-traditional areas?  Will the proliferation of free trade agreements continue or stop or slow? What is going to occur at the WTO and in free trade agreements regarding financial service liberalization?  What is going to happen at the United Nations, the WTO and in free trade agreements regarding the environment/climate change?  Will U.S. export controls be lessened or tightened in light of conflicting goals of keeping job in the United States and exporting more?

Read more in the following sources -

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