The Latest: World trade official warns of ‘domino effect’

April 12, 2018

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the World Trade Organization and the tensions over global trade (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

The World Trade Organization chief says he understands President Donald Trump’s desire to create U.S. jobs and boost salaries, but says countries that get tough on trade should be careful to avoid a “domino effect” that could derail such goals in the first place.

Roberto Azevedo waded delicately into the possible impact of a simmering U.S.-China trade dispute involving tit-for-tat tariffs that could escalate into a trade war with massive international complications.

He said: “We’re not there yet.”

Azevedo acknowledged criticism of the WTO but brushed off “speculation” that Washington might pull out if its efforts to challenge Chinese policies through the trade body don’t go its way.

He spoke Thursday after chairing an annual news conference to lay out WTO’s predictions for trade, which are clouded by the standoff.


12:00 p.m.

The World Trade Organization predicts continued trade growth this year, though it warns that tensions and “tit-for-tat” retaliatory measures, notably between the U.S. and China, could compromise those projections.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo laid out the trade body’s predictions at a news conference Thursday amid concerns about a trade war over U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on Chinese and other goods and Beijing’s retaliation.

As it stands, the forecast is for 4.4 percent growth in merchandise trade volumes in 2018, easing to 4 percent next year. That’s down from 4.7 percent in 2017.

The WTO is pointing to “broadly positive signs” in world trade but says they face headwinds from “a rising tide of anti-trade sentiment and the increased willingness of governments to employ restrictive trade measures.”