WTO chief Roberto Azevedo warns of increased risk of ′trade wars′ | News | DW | 24.02.2018
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WTO chief Roberto Azevedo warns of increased risk of 'trade wars'

Amid mounting tensions between the US and China over tariffs, the WTO has warned that trade wars can happen "at any time." WTO chief Roberto Azevedo praised globalization, calling its detractors "misguided."

WTO Director Roberto Azevedo

WTO Chief Roberto Azevedo

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo has warned that the threat of trade wars has increased since the 2008 global economic crisis. Azevedo shared his views on the current international trade climate in an interview in Geneva with news agency DPA published on Saturday.

"Trade wars can come up at any time, and in ways that we don't expect," he warned.

The WTO chief spoke favorably about globalization and insisted that he did not see an alternative to it in world trade. Azevedo considered that fears of job losses because of globalization were "misguided".

Read more:  Globalization: Even Davos gets the blues

"People think that they are losing their jobs because of immigrants; sometimes because of the imports from a country or another. But the reality is that 80 percent of the jobs that are being lost today are lost due to new technologies, to innovation, to new managerial strategies," he asserted.

Azevedo said he missed the "constructive spirit" that the US had exhibited toward international commerce in the past.

Although the WTO chief expressed no concern about a possible US exit from the WTO, he shared his concerns about Washington's current posture on global commerce: "I don't see at this point a conversation that will lead us to believe that a solution is in the making," he said.

Read more: EU prepares response to possible US tariffs

Azevedo praised Germany as one of the world's clear winners from globalization and noted that it was one of the few countries working to prepare its workers for technological changes.

China-US tariff tension

Azevedo's comments came amid increasing tension between the US and China over tariffs, trade rules and protectionism. In January, Washington announced the application of high import tariffs on washing machines and solar power equipment to protect domestic jobs.

Read more: US 'America First' tariffs on washing machines and solar panels anger China, South Korea

The move spurred China, South Korea, the European Union and others to formally request consultations over the matter with the US at the WTO.

On Friday, the US complained about a new Chinese internet-access rule to the WTO. The new Chinese regulation, to take effect next month, would create significant restrictions for cross-border service suppliers, the US argued.

Washington has also been critical of the 164 member organization.

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Let the tariffs begin!

jcg/jm (dpa, Reuters)

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