Speak up for global trade as force for good, WTO members urged

30 July 2018


ALL those who believe in trade as a force for good should speak up in its defence as global tensions rise, the director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Roberto Azevedo (pictured below), has urged.

   Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization

Speaking at a full meeting of the WTO membership, the director general outlined the economic and systemic threats posed by the growing tensions in global trade saying new measures were being announced with increasing frequency.

His comments came after US President, Donald Trump, described the EU as ‘a foe over trade’ and introduced trade tariffs on some its goods as well as some from China both of which have reciprocated by imposing tariffs on US exports.

Director-general Azevedo said: “There is real and justified concern about the escalation we are seeing. Whether or not you call it a trade war, the first shots have been fired. Continued escalation would risk a major economic impact, which would pose a serious threat to jobs, growth and recovery in all countries.

“There is also a potential systemic impact, which poses a greater threat in the longer term, particularly if countries begin to accept this tit-for-tat dynamic as the new normal. The situation requires an urgent response. We have a duty to help resolve these issues, and to alert people to the potential risks and consequences.”

Mr Azevedo, a Brazillian diplomat who became WTO director general almost five years ago, said he has been holding wide-ranging consultations with WTO members, political leaders, ministers, parliaments, think tanks and the media to create understanding of what is at stake and urging dialogue to explore how best to resolve international trade tensions.

He added: “Trade touches all of our lives so I am calling on everyone who believes in trade as a force for good to speak up. Now is the time.

“In some ways I actually think we may be seeing some progress. Leaders are increasingly aware and engaged in WTO issues, in a way that I haven’t seen before.

“There is renewed engagement from many members on systemic issues, bringing more focus on the WTO and how it can be improved. I think that this could be positive and could potentially help us to find a path out of the current crisis.”


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