Good news about the economic situation across Europe has been in short supply recently, but there has been one piece of good news this week. One which, moreover, shows politicians learning the lessons from the 1930s (although quite what some of the right lessons are is a somewhat controversial topic).
In the 1930s, depression caused countries to sink into rounds of beggar my neighbour protectionism, putting up barriers to trade in vain attempts to protect domestic economies but which only ended up dragging everyone further down.
This time round, not only is protectionism not on the march in the same way, but there has even been a good move towards lowering trade barriers with the agreement that Russia will be joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO):
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said that WTO membership could raise Russian growth by 10 per cent over the next five years and could help provide a solution to the European financial crisis.
“The way out of the European crisis is free trade and more cross-border investment,” he said, calling the signing on Friday “a very important milestone”.
There are many changes to the WTO Liberal Democrats want to make, but a WTO with Russia in it is better than one without.