Meanwhile, Reuters reported that leaders pushing for frictionless free trade had something new to worry about - the potential break-up of the internet, which today formed the backbone of the global economy.
The issue was a hot topic at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, as the forum sought to provide a platform for debate over ways to maintain an open, cross-border web in the face of pressures for national regulation.
''Is fragmentation happening? Quite frankly, there is a temptation,'' said Vittorio Colao, chief executive of mobile telecoms group Vodafone, who pointed to different regulatory regimes as an impediment to network traffic.
A growing volume of business relied on the internet, from tourism to financial services, and the web had empowered firms, especially smaller ones, to find customers in foreign markets who would be out of reach otherwise.
According to a 2014 report by the Boston Consulting Group, the internet economy would be worth $4.2 trillion in the major G20 economies by 2016 and, if the internet were a country, it would rank among the top five global economies, ahead of Germany.