asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the effects on the United Kingdom economy of trade protectionism.
Protectionism is a short-range and essentially short-term response to economic and international trade developments and it undermines the open world trade system created by GATT rules. It must be distinguished from protection, which can be legitimate and operated fairly. Governments have social, economic and political priorities which require the protection of some types of economic activity, and this is recognised by GATT. Protectionism raises prices, reduces choice and encourages an inefficient allocation of resources. Were it to proliferate, it could weaken world trade and damage prospects for world economic growth, including the growth of the United Kingdom economy.