WTO Chief warns of economic danger of trade war

WASHINGTON (AFP) – All countries will lose in a global trade war, the head of the world’s trade referee warned in a speech yesterday.

Under attack from US President Donald Trump, Head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 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 “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.

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. – AFP