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Politics & press news in brief – Embassy 9 – Jun 2008

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Foreign Secretary David Miliband has warned against nations “sleepwalking into isolationism and protectionism” in the face of a global economic slowdown.

Speaking to diplomats at the Queen’s birthday reception, he said countries faced a choice about how to sustain and spread the benefits of globalisation and he argued that the right response was “to open up, not close down”.

Mr Miliband warned that a successful Doha Round of trade talks was under threat because a worldwide recession, combined with higher food and oil prices, was putting pressure on jobs and wages and leading some “to seek refuge” in protectionist policies.

The Foreign Secretary added that countries were using politics as an excuse to cut bilateral energy deals because of energy insecurity. Fears of climate change make notions of self-sufficiency, be it in agriculture or energy, increasingly attractive.

Quoting Freedom House, he said the world was also facing a “democratic recession” meaning the percentage of countries regarded as free has stagnated.

Mr Miliband appealed for continued economic openness and urged countries not to turn away from the Doha Development Round. He also called for more freedom of movement of capital but also more transparency, particularly regarding sovereign wealth funds.

The Foreign Secretary added that managed migration was important and welcomed the ongoing work on the EU Migration Pact proposed by the incoming French Presidency of the EU.

Echoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he argued for an EU energy liberalisation agreement and for a deal between oil producing and oil consuming nations to invest in low carbon technologies.

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