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Morning Line: is protectionism the answer?
As America plans to close its borders to foreign goods, is it time we thought about doing the same?
As the world's leaders in politics and business meet on the slopes in Switzerland, protectionism is the word on everyone's lips.
While America is preparing to ban the import of raw materials and parts as part of its $825 billion stimulus package, many other world leaders are already warning they would challenge the move and could retaliate. They also warn of the threat to world growth posed by growing protectionism.
On Monday, UK prime minister Gordon Brown is expected to re-iterate his call for global co-operation as he believes it is crucial to help revive the global economy.
But he may already be too late. The latest stats suggest the world's nations are already all trading less.
For many, protectionism is an obvious answer to the recent downturn.
After all, isn't it the very fact that borders have been so open that caused the current globalisation of recession?
As the jobless toll rises in the UK and we begin to realise the error in focusing so much of our energy on financial services, many here also seem to be backing a call for greater protection for our businesses and a new focus on boosting UK manufacturing.
Is it really fair that while the UK producers and farmers have been driven into the ground, Chinese factories have sprung up supplying us with everything from socks to electronic goods?
And isn't it time we put an and end to Indian call centres and the off shoring of so many other white collar jobs from IT to journalism?
There is also an obvious environmental argument against globalisation.
If we were to buy locally produced goods, we would reduce our carbon footprint.
But if it is so blindingly obvious that protectionism is good for us, why is free trade so popular with economists? And why are so many of the world's leaders so keen to make sure we don't slide back to the period after the Great Depression when US borders were closed and international trade capped?
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