Full-blown US, China trade war to cost jobs, growth and stability — WTO’s Azevedo

The director-general of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, said: “There would be no winners from such a scenario and every region would be affected.” (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Full-blown US, China trade war to cost jobs, growth and stability — WTO’s Azevedo

  • ‘A continued escalation of tensions would pose an increased threat to stability, to jobs and to the kind of growth that we are seeing today’
  • ‘There would be no winners from such a scenario and every region would be affected’

BERLIN: A full-blown trade war would have serious effects on global economic growth and there would be no winners of such a scenario, the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Roberto Azevedo, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a Berlin industry event against the backdrop of growing trade tensions between China and the US, Azevedo said: “The warning lights are flashing. A continued escalation of tensions would pose an increased threat to stability, to jobs and to the kind of growth that we are seeing today.”
A full-blown global trade war with a breakdown in international trade cooperation would reduce global trade growth by around 70 percent and GDP growth by 1.9 percent, Azevedo said.
“There would be no winners from such a scenario and every region would be affected,” Azevedo said. The European Union itself would have about 1.7 percent taken off its GDP growth, he said, adding: “Clearly, we cannot let this happen.”
Azevedo pointed to several reform proposals that addressed trade-distorting practices and the WTO’s existing mechanisms to resolve trade disputes, adding that members had to agree on which reforms they wanted to focus on.
“Clearly, this informed debate is gaining significant momentum and that is positive,” Azevedo said, adding the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November would be crucial to agree on the next steps to safeguard the rules-based free trade order.
“Of course, the system can be better, in fact it must be better. But it’s nonetheless vital. So while we work to improve it and ensure that it’s more responsible to evolving economic needs, we must also preserve what we have — and I count on your support to that end,” he said.


Sensitive chair that checks stress a smash at Tokyo tech fair

Updated 39 sec ago
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Sensitive chair that checks stress a smash at Tokyo tech fair

  • Electronics giant Panasonic showed a prototype of an armchair that can tell how stressed its user is by measuring sweat from hands as well as seating position and facial expressions
  • Components manufacturer Murata Manufacturing has pioneered a small device held for a minute between the thumb and forefinger to measure pulse rates and nervous system activity

MAKUHARI: Sensors that can measure stress levels, mood, posture and performance took center stage at Asia’s top high-tech fair in Tokyo.
Ten years ago at CEATEC the big noise was created by big-screen TVs and entertainment systems. Now the buzz is about tiny sensors that measure the minutest facet of the human body — a Japanese speciality.
Electronics giant Panasonic showed a prototype of an armchair that can tell how stressed its user is by measuring sweat from hands as well as seating position and facial expressions.
“You could imagine such a chair in the office and by combining the results with air conditioning and lighting levels, you could adjust the ambiance of the office to enable people to relax if necessary,” a Panasonic demonstrator said.
Components manufacturer Murata Manufacturing has pioneered a small device held for a minute between the thumb and forefinger to measure pulse rates and nervous system activity.
“We are going to start selling this very soon to companies, so they can measure how stressed their employees are. Transport and taxi companies are especially interested,” said Takashi Hayashida, a spokesman for the firm.

 

Staff equipped with sensors could be under permanent surveillance to “improve their posture and productivity,” according to Japanese electronics firm TDK.
Sensors are also being put to work to improve health care — especially for the elderly, with nearly 28 percent of the Japanese population over 65.
Using a device created by hygiene firm Lion, patients can flash a smile at a smartphone and send it to a server that will report back with data on oral hygiene.
Housing equipment firm Lixil has developed a bathtub sensor that measures water temperature and vital signs such as pulse and body temperature in an attempt to cut the 5,000-plus sudden bath deaths a year in the country, 90 percent of them in over 65s.
At the other end of the age scale, sensors are being used to ease labor shortages in kindergartens and creches.
Japan’s public New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization has developed a super-fine and sensitive film that can perform a host of functions related to childcare.
When placed in a cot, for example, it can upload data to a computer showing whether a baby rolls onto its stomach or its temperature spikes.
“There is a staff shortage in creches. We need solutions to enable them to watch over more children at a time,” said a demonstrator.
The same film can be used to determine how much and at what speed a meal is eaten — in a hospital or retirement home for example — by measuring the pressure applied on a table by a bowl or plate.
Much effort is also devoted to that less life and death matters, especially body odour, to which the Japanese are especially sensitive.
Cosmetics giant Shiseido recently commissioned a study to demonstrate that the odour given off by a person under stress smells like ... onions.
And the sensors are not just for humans. Sharp has developed a cat litter tray equipped with monitors to measure the volume of the feline’s urine and record its frequency.

FACTOID

Almost 28 percent of the Japanese population are over the age of 65.