WTO chief warns of economic danger of trade war

Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Roberto Azevedo, is welcomed by Argentina's President Mauricio Macri at Costa Salguero in Buenos Aires during the G20 Leaders' Summit, on November 30, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
0

WTO chief warns of economic danger of trade war

  • The “outcome in all simulations is that trade and economic growth will slow down and that all countries, without exceptions, will lose out in a global trade war,” Azevedo said

WASHINGTON: All countries will lose in a global trade war, the head of the world’s trade referee warned in a speech on Wednesday.
Under attack from US President Donald Trump, the head of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, acknowledged that reforms are needed, but rejected criticism that trade is the main cause of job losses.
Azevedo welcomed the commitment by the Group of 20 over the weekend in Buenos Aires to reform the WTO to better preside over the modern trading system, saying the “system can be better.”
But as the Trump administration has aggressively imposed punitive tariffs on trading partners, especially on China, with the goal of reducing the US trade deficit, Azevedo said that “we have to get away from the idea that trade is a zero-sum proposition.”
“It is not. Everyone can benefit,” he said in a speech to the National Foreign Trade Council.
He welcomed the US-China truce reached in Buenos Aires, and the commitment to reach a deal to defuse the conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.
The alternative of escalating the trade conflict would undermine the global economic recovery, he said.
The “outcome in all simulations is that trade and economic growth will slow down and that all countries, without exceptions, will lose out in a global trade war,” Azevedo said.
That is a warning the International Monetary Fund also has issued.
Azevedo acknowledged the growing anxiety in a changing economy, but stressed that most of the job losses are due to technological change, rather than trade.
Trade is “an engine of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation,” he said.
The Trump administration has blocked the workings of the WTO dispute arbitration system.
Azevedo again flagged the dangers of that path, saying it could undermine the WTO. But he said that after the agreement by the G20, “I believe that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to renew the trading system.”


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
0

India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.