GENEVA — The world’s biggest economies are resorting to new trade-restrictive measures, the chief of the World Trade Organization warned Thursday, and said he is taking a message to the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28 to 29, that they need to take action to lower trade tensions that are impacting global economic growth and trade.
“In terms of global trade, I think we are seeing those tensions at a very high level and they are staying there for the moment, and this is weighing down both economic and trade growth,” Roberto Azevedo, WTO director-general, told a news conference here.
Early next week, he said, the WTO will publish the latest figures on the new trade-restrictive measures imposed by G20 members, and indicated once again these measures will be “well above the historical average.”
“At present, we also don’t see any signs that this trend is abating. The situation, of course, requires an urgent response and global leaders should be taking action, so this is the message that I am taking to the G20 leaders’ summit,” he said.
Pressed on what G20 outcome he wants to emerge, he said, “I think the action is in terms of lowering the trade tensions. I think this is something that would be very much welcomed.”
Azevedo said the possible meeting between U.S. President Trump and President Xi Jinping “would be a welcome sign.”
Asked to comment on Trump’s stance on punitive tariffs, the WTO chief said, “It’s clear to me he believes that tariffs are an important instrument to increase the leverage of the United States in negotiations that they are having now with China and other trading partners. How they use it, and the aim, and what the consequences are, I’m sure that the United States is considering all these elements.”
But as far as the WTO is concerned, “we do hope that trade-restrictive measures are rolled back because they are affecting global economic growth and trade,” Azevedo said.