Finance ministers from the group of seven industrialised nations, are hoping to be able to show a united front in the struggle to combat the world wide recession.
The seven, meeting in Rome have stressed that free trade is a priority and must be supported, if possible. But with a new administration in Washington pushing a “buy American” clause in its stimulus plan, the group is anxious to see if the US will fall into line. British Finance Minister, Alistair Darling was confident the new US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner would respond positively. “I think that the United States is very aware of its obligations to the rest of the world. I have talked to Tim Geithner about the issue of protectionism, and I think he is pretty focused on the fact that if we see a return of protectionism as it happened in the 1930s’ for example, that prolonged recession at that time.” Other measures are also causing concern. Government rescues for French and Italian carmakers along with a campaign in Britain to keep jobs for British workers appear to contradict free trade principles. It means that the official joint communique expected at the end of the two day meeting will take some careful drafting.