NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- European and Asian leaders, including French President Francois Hollande, have urged one another to do what they can to free global trade, citing protectionism as a risk to the global economy. To that we say: Hear, hear! So far, their words are pretty darned encouraging. Consider the following agreements reached recently (which we noted at our MarketMinder Web site):
- Taiwan and China signed memorandums of understanding.
- India and Pakistan have made significant recent progress toward more open cross-border trade.
- The U.S. and South Korea, the U.S. and Panama, the EU and South Korea, and the EU and Mercosur (a South American supranational organization) have all signed free trade agreements recently.
- About one month ago, Australia introduced legislation that would impose tariffs on steel imported from South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. This is ironic given that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has recently been emphasizing the degree to which Australia trades with Asia, citing an aim to boost trade with the region to at least one-third of Australian GDP by 2025, compared with one-quarter today.
- Brazil's administration is planning on increasing tariffs on some 100 goods -- ostensibly in the name of protecting domestic industry, a common scapegoat for many global protectionist measures.
- And China's engaged in tiffs with several parties, including Japan, the EU and the U.S. More recently, China's official news agency, Xinhua, published an editorial exhorting France to abandon encouraging its citizens to buy only "Made in France" goods, (correctly) identifying such language as protectionist. And literally the same day it was reported world leaders are seeking free trade, it was reported China's filed an EU solar subsidy complaint with the WTO.
All the more reason, too, when it comes to politicians, it's far more critical to watch what they do than what they say. Words, to our knowledge, have never caused a bear market. Actions certainly have, including, arguably, protectionist moves. This article constitutes the views, opinions, analyses and commentary of Fisher Investments as of November 2012 and should not be regarded as personal investment advice. No assurances are made Fisher Investments will continue to hold these views, which may change at any time without notice. In addition, no assurances are made regarding the accuracy of any forecast made herein. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. A risk of loss is involved with investments in stock markets. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.