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Russia, U.S. Most Protectionist in Group of 20

Russia and the U.S. have the most protectionist trade measures among the Group of 20 leading industrialized countries, according annual rankings released today in Hong Kong by the International Chamber of Commerce.

India and Argentina came third and fourth, while China was ranked sixth, just after Brazil, the Paris-based ICC said in the report, compiled by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. Saudi Arabia was the nation with the fewest measures aimed at protecting its own trade.

Group of 20 leaders pledged to resist protectionism when they met in Canada on June 27 and renewed their commitment not to raise barriers or impose new barriers to investment and trade. Still, countries are taking steps to shield industries from international competition as job losses rise in the world’s biggest economies and as the European sovereign-debt crisis damps growth, according to the chamber report.

“The conclusions of this report should serve as stark reminders of the dangers of protectionism,” Victor Fung, the chamber’s chairman, and chairman of Li & Fung Ltd., a Hong Kong-listed supplier to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., said in today’s release. “During a time of economic recovery such as this, the world needs fewer barriers to trade, not more.”

Rising wages in China will prompt companies to boost export prices over time, easing the trade imbalance with the U.S., Fung said.

”From a protectionism standpoint, it might ease off some of the pressure,” Fung said.

Protectionist trade measures may not save jobs because other countries may retaliate, the chamber, which advocates free trade, said in the report.

The ICC analysis was based on data from Global Trade Alert, a service provided by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, a London-based research group that aims to deter discriminatory measures by governments against trading partners.

The rankings were compiled based on the number of discriminatory measures implemented, “in the pipeline,” or being considered, according to the report.

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