WTO warns protectionism threatens strong trade growth forecast

Updated 12 April 2018

WTO warns protectionism threatens strong trade growth forecast

GENEVA: The World Trade Organization said Thursday that it expects strong trade growth through this year and next but warned progress would be “undermined” if governments implement threatened protectionist measures.

The WTO forecast 4.4 percent growth in trade volume this year and a more moderate four percent expansion in 2019.

World Trade Organization director-general Roberto Azevedo cautioned that “this important progress could be quickly undermined if governments resort to restrictive trade policies, especially in a tit-for-tat process that could lead to an unmanageable escalation.”

“A cycle of retaliation is the last thing the world economy needs,” he added in a statement.

Last year saw the most robust rise in trade volume expansion since 2011, raising hope that the world economy was finally on a sustained path to recovery following the financial crisis.

In its latest forecast, the WTO said risks “had appeared to be more balanced than at any time since the financial crisis,” but noted that uncertainty was rising again.

The extent of any protectionist measures that will be implemented by the world’s top economies remains uncertain.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has announced tariffs on steel and aluminum and targeted China for additional 25 percent punitive duties on nearly $50 billion in goods for its alleged theft of US intellectual property.

China has vowed to defend itself through a series of reciprocal measures.

Azevedo reiterated his call for nations to try to resolve their disputes through the multilateral system, instead of via face-to-face standoffs.

“The pressing trade problems confronting WTO members (are) best tackled through collective action,” he said.

“I urge governments to show restraint and settle their differences through dialogue and serious engagement.”


Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

Trump calls for World Bank to stop lending to China

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday called for the World Bank to stop giving loans to China, one day after the institution adopted a lending plan to Beijing over Washington’s objections.
The World Bank on Thursday adopted a plan to aid China with $1 billion to $1.5 billion in low-interest loans annually through June 2025. The plan calls for lending to “gradually decline” from the previous five-year average of $1.8 billion.
“Why is the World Bank loaning money to China? Can this be possible? China has plenty of money, and if they don’t, they create it. STOP!” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Spokespeople for the White House and the World Bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The World Bank loaned China $1.3 billion in the fiscal 2019 year, which ended on June 30, a decrease from around $2.4 billion in fiscal 2017.
But the fall in the World Bank’s loans to China is not swift enough for the Trump administration, which has argued that Beijing is too wealthy for international aid.