WTO says global trade to grow 3.6% this year

There has been a resurgence of Asian trade flows, the WTO said. Above, a steel factory in Dalian, China. (Reuters)
Updated 21 September 2017
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WTO says global trade to grow 3.6% this year

GENEVA: Global trade is rebounding strongly but risks remain, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday, with commerce expected to grow by 3.6 percent in 2017, well above last year’s 1.3 percent.
The forecast marks a sharp upward revision of the WTO’s April estimate, when it foresaw growth of 2.4 percent and in a range of 1.8-3.6 percent, due to a high level of political and economic uncertainty.
That range has now been narrowed to 3.2-3.9 percent, based on accelerating economic growth and rising import demand in China and the US, which spurred trade within Asia.
“The improved outlook for trade is welcome news, but substantial risks that threaten the world economy remain in place and could easily undermine any trade recovery,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.
“These risks include the possibility that protectionist rhetoric translates into trade restrictive actions, a worrying rise in global geopolitical tensions and a rising economic toll from natural disasters.”
However, trade growth was becoming more synchronized across regions than it had been for many years, which could make the current trend self-reinforcing, he said.
The fast pace of 2017, which followed a very weak year, is unlikely to be sustained in 2018, with US and euro zone monetary policy expected to tighten and China likely to rein in easy credit to stop its economy from overheating, the WTO said.
 “All of these factors should contribute to a moderation of trade growth in 2018 to around 3.2 percent (the full range of the estimate being from 1.4 percent to 4.4 percent),” it said.
The ratio of trade growth to GDP growth, which traditionally ran at about 2:1 but has slumped to about 1:1 in the decade since the financial crisis, should rise this year, with trade growing 1.3 times faster than the global economy, it said.


In Trump rebuke, US Senate votes to reimpose ban on China’s ZTE

Updated 40 min 32 sec ago
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In Trump rebuke, US Senate votes to reimpose ban on China’s ZTE

  • ZTE has been on life support ever since Washington said it had banned US companies from selling crucial hardware and software components to the company for seven years.
  • ZTE's fiberoptic networks depend on US components and its cheap smartphones sold en masse abroad are powered by US chips and the Android operating system.

WASHINGTON: The US Senate defied President Donald Trump by voting Monday to overrule his administration’s deal with Chinese telecom firm ZTE and reimpose a ban on high-tech chip sales to the company.
Senators added an amendment targeting ZTE into a sweeping, must-pass national defense spending bill that cleared the chamber on an 85-10 vote.
The company has been on life support ever since Washington said it had banned US companies from selling crucial hardware and software components to ZTE for seven years, after staffers violated trade sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
It was fined $1.2 billion for those violations, but earlier this month the Trump administration gave ZTE a lifeline by easing sanctions in exchange for a further $1.4 billion penalty on the company.
The Senate measure nullifies that action, proposing an outright ban on the government buying products and services from ZTE and another Chinese telecoms firm, Huawei.
“We’re heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either,” a bipartisan group of senators said.
The lawmakers, who introduced the amendment, include top Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Marco Rubio.
Providing $716 billion in funding for national defense for fiscal year 2019 and giving policy guidance to the Pentagon, the bill is not a done deal.
The House of Representatives passed its own version of the measure, and the two chambers must now hash out a compromise.
“It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads toward a conference,” Schumer and Rubio said.
ZTE, which employs 80,000 people, said recently that its major operations had “ceased” after the ban, raising the possibility of its collapse.
Its fiberoptic networks depend on US components and its cheap smartphones sold en masse abroad are powered by US chips and the Android operating system.