WTO Urges Nations to Ease Trade Tensions

The World Trade Organization is urging nations to resolve trade tensions, warning that restrictive trade measures would have a harmful impact on the global economy.

The group refuses to weigh in on what appears to be the start of a trade war between the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies. China has reacted to Washington’s decision to slap 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods by reciprocating in kind.

While the Geneva-based WTO will not comment on specific actions, the organization’s director-general, Roberto Azevedo, has sent out a series of tweets warning nations against giving in to protectionist impulses.

Azevedo says a new WTO monitoring report on trade measures enacted by the G-20 countries indicates a disturbing increase in trade restrictions by major economies. In his tweet, the WTO chief says recent developments show that more restrictive measures are on the way.

His spokesman, Dan Pruzin, says Azevedo fears the deterioration in trade relations may be worse than previously anticipated and is likely to have very serious consequences.

“The fallout from these measures is already being felt,” Pruzin said. “Companies are hesitating to invest, markets are getting jittery, some prices are rising. With further escalation, the effects would only grow in magnitude, hitting jobs and growth in the countries involved and sending economic shock waves around the world.” 

President Donald Trump has threatened that the United States might quit the WTO if it is not treated fairly.

“I will just say that no U.S. official in Geneva has given any indication in any of the meetings here in Geneva that the United States intends to withdraw from the WTO,” Pruzin told VOA.

WTO chief Azevedo is urging all parties to sit down and discuss ways of tackling the issues at the root of the growing trade tensions.

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