WTO sees signs of trade tensions starting to affect global economy

Simmering trade tensions between the world's top two economies are set to erupt into a full-blown trade war on July 6, 2018, with Washington poised to impose new tariffs on 34 billion USD in Chinese goods. (File Photo/AFP/JOHANNES EISELE).
Updated 04 July 2018
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WTO sees signs of trade tensions starting to affect global economy

  • IATA said air cargo demand was expected to grow by “a modest 4.0 percent” in 2018
  • The WTO analysis found that G20 countries introduced 39 new trade restrictions between mid-October last year and mid-May this year

GENEVA: Trade barriers being erected by major economies could jeopardize the global economic recovery and their effects are already starting to show, the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday in a report on trade restrictions among G20 nations.
“This continued escalation poses a serious threat to growth and recovery in all countries, and we are beginning to see this reflected in some forward-looking indicators,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.
He did not elaborate, but in May the WTO’s quarterly trade outlook indicator suggested trade would grow slower in the second quarter than in the first.
One component of its composite forward-looking indicator is international air freight data from the International Transport Association, which issued its figures for May on Wednesday.
IATA said air cargo demand was expected to grow by “a modest 4.0 percent” in 2018, less than the 4.5 percent foreseen in December.
“Headwinds are strengthening with growing friction among governments on trade. We still expect demand to grow, but those expectations are dampened with each new tariff introduced,” IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement.
The WTO analysis found that G20 countries introduced 39 new trade restrictions between mid-October last year and mid-May this year, double the rate seen in the previous period, affecting trade in iron and steel, plastics and vehicles.
“The marked increase in new trade restrictive measures among G20 economies should be of real concern to the international community,” Azevedo said, adding that more restrictions had been put in place in the weeks after the period under review ended.
The WTO report did not name any particular country, but since the start of the year US President Donald Trump has launched a series of tariffs to punish what he sees as unfair trade, by allies and economic rivals alike.
“At a juncture where the global economy is finally beginning to generate sustained economic momentum following the global financial crisis, the uncertainty created by a proliferation of trade restrictive actions could place economic recovery in jeopardy,” the WTO report said.
It added that the world trading system was built to resolve such problems but the escalating tensions were a threat to the system itself, and G20 economies needed to use all means at their disposal to de-escalate the situation and promote further trade recovery.


Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Updated 26 June 2019
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Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.