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Protectionism 'absolute evil', says Japanese minister

Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa lashed out at protectionism, calling it an "absolute evil" ahead of a meeting of the Group of Seven economic powers.

business Updated: Feb 13, 2009 23:14 IST

Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa lashed out Friday at protectionism, calling it an "absolute evil" ahead of a meeting of the Group of Seven economic powers.

"For the US, Europe and other countries that sought liberalisation from Japan to run to protectionism is an absolute evil," Nakagawa told reporters before leaving for the G7 meeting in Rome.

"We need to block (this trend), and Japan should take a resolute stance against it," he added.

"While protectionism may be good for a single country, it is negative for the entire world. Japan would like to make concrete proposals" to prevent a trend of favouring domestic industries, said Nakagawa.

French and US protectionist tendencies are expected to be in the spotlight when the G7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs meet on the global economic crisis in Rome from Friday.

Nakagawa said on Tuesday that the G7 nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States -- were expected to discuss the "Buy American" clause in a US economic stimulus package.

Japan, the European Union and Canada have fiercely attacked the clause, warning it could start a global round of tit-for-tat trade reprisals and set a bad example for other countries mulling their own stimulus projects.

US senators voted last week to soften the clause, which barred spending on a project unless all the iron, steel and manufactured goods involved are made in the United States.

Meanwhile, France has fiercely defended its plan to pump billions of euros (dollars) into its struggling auto sector against European Union charges of protectionism.