WTO cuts 2019 trade growth forecast sharply, Latest Business News - The New Paper

WTO cuts 2019 trade growth forecast sharply

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday cut its trade growth forecast for this year to 1.2 per cent, a sharp downgrade on the 2.6 per cent rise predicted in April, which the body blamed on escalating trade tensions.

"The darkening outlook for trade is discouraging but not unexpected," said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo.

At its main annual forecast in April, WTO economists warned that systemic threats to global trade - notably retaliatory tariffs between China and the United States - would continue to hamper the flow of goods.

Washington and Beijing have so far been unable to reach a comprehensive deal that would remove trade barriers, while President Donald Trump is reportedly mulling severe new restrictions on investment in China.

The WTO cautioned yesterday that "further rounds of tariffs and retaliation could produce a destructive cycle of recrimination".

"Trade conflicts heighten uncertainty, which is leading some businesses to delay the productivity-enhancing in-vestments that are essential to raising living standards," Mr Azevedo said.

The WTO saidNorth America showed the fastest growth of exports of any region in the first half of the year, at 1.4 per cent, although the rise of imports into North America were also greater than elsewhere, at 1.8 per cent. - AFP, REUTERS