End over-politicization of global trade: Xinhua commentary

Beijing: If excessive politicization of global trade takes root, “that would easily breed mounting protectionism and even risk triggering a destructive trade war”, said a Xinhua commentary that called for an end to the slide towards toxic over-politicization.

The commentary “Stay alert against over-politicization of global free trade” in Xinhua news agency on Thursday said that for centuries, free trade, both as a theory and as a practice, has been widely accepted as a powerful tool for nations worldwide to grow their wealth.

“However, an alarming propensity to over-politicize the policy, which has served as an indispensable engine of the world economy, is emerging and threatens to derail the global endeavor to achieve a strong and sustained recovery,” it warned.

It said that in the eyes of some countries, “a free trade agreement is no more than a political tool to help implement its foreign policy agenda, and to win over a battle over who can clinch the power to write the rules of the global economy”.

“And it was such a mindset that has given rise to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), from which China, the Asia-Pacific country that is the world’s top trader and second largest economy, is conspicuously absent,” the commentary added.

Xinhua said that right now, the trans-regional trade protocol still needs to struggle through the turbulent domestic legal procedures in many of these signatories before it can be effective in real terms.

“Yet even after the deal becomes operational, excluding China in this gigantic trade alliance which makes up 40 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) will almost undershoot its targets.”

It went on to say that such a “parochial trade arrangement can be even more infectiously poisonous as it could easily be repeated by other countries as a shortcut to gain self-interests regardless of the negative effects the rest of world may suffer”.

“It would further dampen the world’s confidence in how free trade can help revitalize the global growth, especially at such a moment when economic recovery remains weak and uneven seven years after the outbreak of the global financial crisis.”

The commentary warned that “should the trend of excessive politicization of trade take root and grow, that would easily breed mounting protectionism and even risk triggering a destructive trade war, an outcome that would cost everyone dearly”.

“Thus it is imperative that those flirting with that attitude stop doing so before it is too late, and join other countries with good faith in promoting global free trade.”