The economic argument against protectionism

Andrew Leigh at the launch of his paper, “Choosing Openness: Why global engagement is best for Australia” at the National Press Club in Canberra on September 27. Photo by: Lisa Cornish / Devex

CANBERRA — Nationalism and protectionism are growing globally. In September, an extremist far-right party took seats in the German parliament for the first time since World War II. It followed historic results for the far-right in the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary. In France, neither of the traditional parties made the election runoff. In a period of just over two years, between 2013 and 2015, Australia had four prime ministers and trust in politicians was at a record low.

Facing inward on matters of politics has become the focus of the growing far-right parties and distrust of foreigners and foreign investment, and lack of support for foreign aid have been outcomes of protectionist policies.

On September 27, 2017, however, the Lowy Institute launched a new paper titled Choosing Openness: Why global engagement is best for Australia, highlighting the importance of openness and global engagement for both developed and developing countries. Author Andrew Leigh, shadow assistant treasurer, presented the case for the economic benefits openness brings in comparison to sluggish growth and decline that comes with protectionism.

What is the purpose of the new paper?

At the launch of the paper, research director for the Lowy Institute Anthony Bubalo explained that the papers produced by the Lowy Institute aim to bring insight into key international issues affecting Australia and the world.

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About the author

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    Lisa Cornish

    Lisa Cornish is a Devex Reporter based in Canberra, where she focuses on the Australian aid community. Lisa formerly worked with News Corp Australia as a data journalist for the national network and was published throughout Australia in major metropolitan and regional newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in Melbourne, Herald Sun in Melbourne, Courier-Mail in Brisbane, and online through Lisa additionally consults with Australian government providing data analytics, reporting and visualization services. Lisa was awarded the 2014 Journalist of the Year by the New South Wales Institute of Surveyors.