Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 10 News List

‘No end in sight’ to escalating trade war: WTO head

AFP, LONDON

Escalating trade wars “pose real risks” to the global economy, potentially threatening millions of jobs, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a speech in London on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump is locked in a trade war with China, rolling out billions of US dollars in tariffs in a bid to tackle its trade deficit and rein in what Washington considers unacceptable Chinese trade practices.

Trump has also targeted the EU, and Azevedo told business heads at the Mansion House speech that there appears to be “no end in sight” to the tit-for-tat action, pleading with world leaders to negotiate.

“A continued escalation of tensions would pose real risks,” he said.

WTO economists calculate that “a complete breakdown in international trade cooperation would see a sharp rise in tariffs, knocking up to 17 percent off global trade growth and 1.9 percent off overall global economic growth.

“These effects would cause significant disruptions for workers, firms, and communities as they adjust to this new reality,” Azevedo said.

“Potentially millions of workers would need to find new jobs; firms would be looking for new products and markets; and communities for new sources of growth,” he added.

Responding to claims that unfair trade practices are going unpunished under the current system, Azevedo said that political solutions were needed and called on leaders to work toward such solutions at next month’s G20 summit in Argentina.

Trump has slapped tariffs on US$250 billion in Chinese goods imported by the US and threatened to go even further.

The US accuses China of rampantly stealing technology and seeking an unfair trade advantage by forcing foreign businesses to work with local partners, handing over their know-how in the process.

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