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OECD countries affirm commitments to free trade, aid

OECD countries affirm commitments to free trade, aid

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a statement Wednesday affirming a commitment by its members to open trade and investment markets as well as a continuation of aid to developing countries.

   At a meeting of the group's executive committee in special session, the 30 country OECD members issued a statement which expressed 'concern that the financial crisis has raised the spectre of new protectionist pressures on governments in OECD countries and beyond.

   'In the interest of strengthening the contribution that open markets can make to a dynamic recovery of the global economy, we strongly support the commitments regarding trade agreed at the Washington Summit' on Nov. 15.

   At that meeting, attendees pledged to 'refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing World Trade Organisation (WTO) inconsistent measures to stimulate exports' over the next year and strive for a successful conclusion to the WTO's Doha Development Agenda.

   The OECD's development assistance committee also confirmed its commitment to aid and agreed to maintain those flows.

   Earlier this week a group of 35 countries including 29 OECD members said they were 'determined to maintain their export credit support and ensure that sufficient capacity is available with the aim of supporting international trade flows, in line with sound underwriting principles, within the limits of their respective international obligations.'

   These commitments came as the OECD released an economic forecast Tuesday projecting that the number of unemployed in OECD countries would rise by about 8 million people over the next two years to 34 million, while GDP fell an average of 0.4 percent in 2009, before rising 1.5 percent in 2010. It is projecting GDP will fall 0.9 percent next year in the United States, 0.6 percent in the Euro area, and 0.1 percent in Japan.

   The OECD also expects world trade growth to slow from 4.8 percent in 2008 to 1.9 percent in 2009, before rebounding to 5 percent growth in 2010.

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