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G7 Ministers Vow to Avoid Protectionist Measures


The meeting in Rome of finance ministers from the Group of Seven most industrialized nations was held as the world experiences its most significant and synchronized downturn in decades.

With the downturn expected to continue through 2009, the finance ministers appeared to strongly reject protectionist measures to boost national economies saying it would only hamper a global economic recovery. They also stressed the need to support developing countries to prevent the world's poorest from being the biggest losers in the downturn.

The meeting marked the international debut of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who came to Rome on the heels of the U.S. Congress approving a $787 billion economic stimulus package to resuscitate the U.S. economy late Friday. The plan requires that public infrastructure projects use U.S. steel and goods under a "Buy America" clause. That is worrying some G7 partners who appealed for open trade.

Geithner addressed those worries at the meeting saying all countries need to sustain a commitment to open trade and investment policies which are essential to economic growth and prosperity.

Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, who hosted the meeting in Rome, said that "a deficit in trust" and "a deficit of rules" have been key contributors to the global financial crisis.

The governor of the Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi, said at a news conference Saturday, held at the end of the two-day meeting, that the G7 would have to cope with this crisis as it is unfolding.

"We have seen in the United States that quantitative easing does work, and when I say quantitative easing I mean direct intervention in specific segments of the financial service industry," he said.

The ministers endorsed the U.S. and British approach to fixing the banking system by recapitalizing banks.

The G7 countries also urged China to continue to allow its currency to rise in value to even out the world's massive trade imbalances.

The recommendations from Saturday's G7 meeting - attended by ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - are expected to influence the G20 summit in London on April 2.
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