The Japanese government has issued an ominous warning on the current state of protectionism around the world.
The report says the trend today is the third-most serious since the beginning of the 20th century. The first was the Great Depression of around 1930. The second came around 1980 when trade friction between Japan and the US escalated.
The report analyzes the factors behind today’s rising tide of protectionism.
It says people, mainly in industrialized nations, have increasingly skeptical views on free trade. They blame globalization for declines in employment.
Another factor is that the US is growing alarmed that large subsidies from China’s government are behind the country’s rapid growth in IT and other industries.
The report points to a fear that retaliatory tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing on each other could distort markets in other countries.
The white paper goes on to state the need to build a new, rules-based trade system.