November 22, 2008

Bush staunchly defends free trade in farewell

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Speaking at the APEC leaders meeting in Lima, Peru, Mr Bush said his administration would use its last two months in office to work on measures against protectionism.

And he offered a sweeping defence of free trade, demanding the world resist protectionism during the financial turmoil.

Mr Bush and 20 other leaders from the Pacific rim, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, were holding talks in Peru at a tightly guarded military headquarters, where two decades earlier troops tortured suspected leftist sympathisers.

Staunchly defending his often controversial eight-year presidency as he prepares to hand over to Barack Obama, Mr Bush summed up his philosophy as "free markets, free trade and free people."

"I believe there is an Almighty and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth is freedom," Mr Bush said in an address on his final foreign trip as president.

Peppering his remarks with Spanish, Mr Bush conceded that recent events showed that governments must sometimes intervene in markets.

The Bush administration led a $US700 billion bailout of Wall Street in hopes the US economy would rebound from its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

"Yet it is also essential that nations resist the temptation to overcorrect by imposing regulations that would stifle innovation and choke off growth," Mr Bush said. "The verdict of history is unmistakable."

He vowed to press hard in his final two months in office to break a deadlock in World Trade Organization negotiations, a pledge made by 20 world leaders last week in Washington for a summit on the financial turmoil.

"We refuse to accept protectionism in the 21st century," he said emphatically.

Despite massive job cuts and plummeting growth rates across the world, Mr Bush predicted that capitalism would eventually be vindicated.

"Recovering from the financial crisis is going to take time, but we'll recover, and in so doing begin a new era of prosperity," he said.

Source: ABC News

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