Keeping global markets open

By Dandrea09 May 2008

In a speech earlier this year, Charlie McCreevy, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, noted that in times of big changes and uncertainties, globalisation is increasingly perceived as a threat.

Heard through the fog of recent financial turmoil, the cries of protectionists are loud and growing louder. McCreevy posed the basic question: Should Europe open its doors to goods, people, and ideas from outside or should it close them?

The answer seems quite clear to him. “We need an open Europe – open to each other but also open to the rest of the world. A Europe which is confident enough to promote its values, its traditions, its interests and its rules. A Europe which is a reliable partner in the world.”

His belief echoes across the Atlantic, where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched the Global Regulatory Cooperation Project (GRC) to combat the growing problem of protectionist and divergent regulations that distort markets and undermine competitiveness. GRC has committed itself to important policy areas that include:

Intellectual property

Governments are increasingly undermining intellectual property rights to achieve policy objectives that prejudice the legitimate interests of innovators.

Competition policy

Antitrust should minimise market distortions but differences in enforcement can make competition authorities instruments of market distortion.

Nationalised enterprises, subsidies, and anti-competitive public sector restraints. State-owned companies gain market share from private competitors using artificially subsidised costs or government burdens.

Investment policies

As barriers to trade these come from limits on foreign direct investment and the adoption of conflicting financial regulations.

Standards

Governments often adopt rules incompatible with internationally accepted standards and impose mandates inconsistent with open and competitive markets.

Government Procurement

Governments use procurement to give domestic firms a captive market at the expense of foreign competitors.

The U.S. Chamber and its European partner, Business Europe, have estimated that commercial impediments in the transatlantic economic relationship cause a 1.5 to 3% drag on the U.S. and European economies.

“Without transatlantic regulatory cooperation, we will continue to see market distortions,• said Stan Anderson, GRC chairman. “We need to get ahead of regulators who continue to create new barriers on both sides of the Atlantic faster.”

Protectionism flies in the face of trade benefits derived from a 60-year worldwide effort to reduce tariffs, product quotas and other isolationist barriers erected before World War II. In 1947 the average tariff on industrial products between industrialised nations was more than 40%, while now they are less than 40%.

As a result, millions of jobs have been created worldwide, consumers have more purchasing power, economies have grown, and many people have more access to innovative technologies.

SC&RA supports efforts to ensure access to a competitive market place for businesses and consumers – so long as fair trade, equitable tariffs and taxation and an overall level playing field are the global market focus.

With members in 47 nations, SC&RA embraces globalisation. The association is working with KHL (IC publisher) and ESTA (European Association of Heavy Haulage, Transport and Mobile Cranes) to host a World Crane and Transport Summit in Europe in October 2009. Industry associations around the world are invited to participate.

Globalisation will be discussed at the SC&RA International Business Forum, 3 to 13 November, in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. As SC&RA celebrates 60 years of excellence, we look to a future with an ever stronger international network of members.

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