THE head of the World Trade Organisation said Thursday that ASEAN nations would be among the first to recover from the economic crisis so long as they avoided protectionism.
Speaking at the launch of a regional trade conference in Siem Reap, Pascal Lamy said the open nature of ASEAN economies had made them more vulnerable to global economic volatility, but he argued that those same policies had allowed many of them to grow "more rapidly and with better development results" than closed economies. "This region will exit this crisis more rapidly" in part because of the export-led growth model, he said.
The two-day Aid for Trade conference in Siem Reap was designed to bring together government, private sector and donor representatives to formulate trade policy recommendations that will be presented at a global review of the Aid for Trade initiative, to be held July 6-7 in Geneva.
Launched in 2005, the initiative aims to help developing countries implement WTO agreements and expand trade.
Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda echoed Lamy's description of ASEAN's recovery prospects while warning against protectionist impulses. "To counter this protectionism, it would be good for ASEAN to reaffirm its commitment to free trade and regional cooperation," he said.
Beforehand, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh described Aid for Trade as "one of few remedies available for least-developed countries".