WTO downgrades global trade forecast in 2018 and 2019

The WTO now expects merchandise trade volumes to expand 3.9 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 September 2018
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WTO downgrades global trade forecast in 2018 and 2019

GENEVA: The World Trade Organization on Thursday downgraded its global trade forecast for this year and next, pointing to escalating trade tensions around the world.
“Escalating trade tensions and tighter credit market conditions in important markets will slow trade growth for the rest of this year and in 2019,” the WTO warned in a statement. “Trade will continue to expand but at a more moderate pace than previously forecast.”
The organization now expects merchandise trade volumes to expand 3.9 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2019, down from an April forecast of 4.4 percent and 4.0 percent growth, respectively.
The WTO’s downgrade comes only days after US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese imports took effect, with Beijing accusing Washington of “economic intimidation.”
The latest volley against Beijing brings the amount of goods hit by duties to more than $250 billion, roughly half of China’s exports to the US.
The WTO said trade measures and threats since its last report in April were only having a “modest” economic effect for now, “but the uncertainty they generate may already be having an impact through reduced investment spending.”


Germany sees ‘most difficult part’ in EU-US trade talks ahead

Updated 49 min 33 sec ago
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Germany sees ‘most difficult part’ in EU-US trade talks ahead

  • ‘For some weeks and months now, we’re observing with concern that the US is tightening its trade policies, that tensions are increasing’
  • ‘The impact can already be seen in the world economy, global growth has slowed’

BERLIN: The most difficult part in trade negotiations between Europe and the United States is starting now and talks should focus on reducing tariffs on industrial goods to increase the chances of a deal, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday.
A confidential US Commerce Department report sent to President Donald Trump over the weekend is widely expected to clear the way for him to threaten tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported autos and auto parts by designating the imports a national security threat.
“For some weeks and months now, we’re observing with concern that the US is tightening its trade policies, that tensions are increasing,” Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio.
“The impact can already be seen in the world economy, global growth has slowed,” Altmaier said.
Asked about the risk of higher US car tariffs, Altmaier said he did not buy the argument that imported cars would threaten the national security of the United States.
Altmaier, a confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that reducing tariffs on cars and other manufactured goods should be the main focus of the ongoing trade talks.
“We are not yet where we want to be. We might have made one-third of the way and the most difficult part will be now,” Altmaier said.
Altmaier added that he was in favor of reducing import tariffs for cars to the same level in the US and Europe, “ideally to zero percent.”
The trade talks will also be high on the agenda during a meeting of Altmaier with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Berlin later on Tuesday.
Both ministers are expected to narrow differences on how far the negotiation mandate of the European Commission in the talks with the US should go and which areas should be excluded.
France is reluctant to open up its agriculture sector to US imports and Altmaier said he was fine with excluding the issue in the trade talks.
“Agriculture is a very sensitive topic, so we don’t want to talk about this in the current situation,” Altmaier said.
Altmaier and Le Maire are expected to hold a news conference after the talks.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a German newspaper that Trump had promised him he would not impose additional import tariffs on European cars for the time being.
If Trump imposed tariffs on European cars, however, the EU would react immediately and not feel obliged to stick to its promise to buy more soybeans and liquefied gas from the United States, Juncker added.