– Paul Blustein is a journalist-in-residence at the Brookings Institution. He is writing a book on the World Trade Organization, which will be published in September. The views expressed are his own. —
Telling young people to abstain from sex is “not realistic at all” — new mother Bristol Palin, 18.
The wisdom of Ms. Palin should be borne in mind by the leaders of the Group of 20 nations at their April 2 summit when they turn to trade.
The meeting comes at a time when worries about protectionism are mounting, because a number of countries have raised trade barriers and enacted other quasi-protectionist measures.
It is tempting to say, as many commentators have, that the G20 should vow to shun all new acts of protectionism, including any tariff-raising or more subtle actions such as “buy local” provisions in government stimulus programs. Unfortunately, such blanket pledges will be no more credible than teenage abstinence campaigns. The G20 must be ambitious on trade, but it must also be practical. Minimizing long-term damage to the trading system should be the overarching goal.