Protectionism leads nowhere: BFA secretary-general

No countries can address their economic problems through protectionism, Zhou Wenzhong, secretary-general of Boao Forum, said today, noting that "protectionism will lead nowhere."

Zhou Wenzhong (C), secretary general of the Boao Forum for Asia, addresses a press conference of the BFA Annual Conference 2018 in Boao, south China's Hainan Province, on April 8, 2018.

No countries can address their economic problems through protectionism, Zhou Wenzhong, secretary-general of the Boao Forum for Asia, said on Sunday, noting that "protectionism will lead nowhere."

The Trump administration gave the wrong prescription for the problems with American economy that were caused mainly by excessive consumption, Zhou told a press conference.

Trade protectionism cannot secure an everlasting impetus for economic growth, but instead imposes restrictions on the sustainability of economic development, according to a report released at the press conference.

The view was echoed by Zhang Yuyan, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Free trade is the source of economic growth. Opening-up can bring progress while closing-off only leads to backwardness," said Zhang at the press conference.

"China has taken a clear stance against protectionism and pledged to expand opening-up and make contributions to global economic growth," Zhang said.

Asia's export-oriented economies should not fall into the trap of protectionism but adapt to new changes of the external environment and take proactive measures to explore new growth points based on innovation, according to the BFA Asian Competitiveness Annual Report 2018.

The report evaluates the comprehensive competitiveness of 37 Asian economies. The Asian economy remains to be an important engine for global economic growth and becomes more resilient against the backdrop of trade protectionism, it said.

The Asian economies have more cooperation than competition. With different development stages, resource endowments as well as policies and systems, Asian economies can complement and benefit each other, according to the report.

"In face of growing global protectionism, Asian economies should adhere to trade liberalization and make greater efforts to push forward regional integration," Zhou said.

Driven by the Belt and Road Initiative and its development dividends, Asian regional economic integration has accelerated. Chinese enterprises have built 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in over 20 countries, creating about 180,000 jobs and about US$1.1 billion in tax revenues, it said.

The BFA annual conference, under the theme of "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity," runs from April 8 to 11 in Boao, south China's Hainan Province.

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