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G7 targets spectre of “economic nationalism”

The G7 finance ministers are meeting in Rome today. The G7 is comprised of the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Japan and Canada.

Eric Reguly writes in today’s Globe and Mail that, “A draft declaration circulating last night said the G7 countries will commit to avoid protectionist measures…The final declaration is to be released this afternoon in Rome, at the end of the two-day conference.”

But despite the G7 opposition to protectionism, “President Nicolas Sarkozy last week agreed to give Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroën, France’s two biggest auto makers, €3-billion ($4.76-billion) each in preferential loans on the condition they don’t close French car plants or fire their workers. The offer came shortly after he urged Peugeot Citroën to close factories in Slovakia and the Czech Republic to spare jobs at home, infuriating the leaders of the two small, struggling countries.”

“Italy has also linked aid to certain industries to domestic job retention.”

At the G7 meeting Finance Minister Jim Flaherty ” hinted that he and other finance ministers would press their French counterpart, Christine Lagarde, to eliminate the link between auto industry aid and domestic job guarantees. But France has given no indication it is willing to back down.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already ruled out calls from the NDP and major Canadian unions for a ‘Buy Canadian’ initiative.

“Economists do not expect breakthroughs at the two-day Rome summit. They see it more as a warm-up exercise for the far bigger Group of 20 meeting in London in April.”

The London Summit website says “On the 2 April 2009 world leaders will gather in London to address the global financial crisis.”

We will need to develop a fuller analysis on the causes of the current economic crisis and identify progressive approaches to address it. The situation is serious – Canada lost 4,161 jobs per day this past January, for a total of 129,000 jobs lost.

The full column by Eric Reguly is at

The London Summit website is