World

Trade wars being fought 'every day': US Commerce Secretary

DAVOS, SWITZERLAND: US officials moved to reassure the World Economic Forum at the Davos summit that "America First" did not mean going it alone, but US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also warned that in trade, "US troops are now coming to the ramparts" to defend American interests.

In response, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid out defences of the liberal world order against the trade protectionism espoused by US President Donald Trump, while acknowledging that the system would have to be overhauled.

As delegates wondered what US President Donald Trump would say in his speech today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to smooth the way for his arrival.

DEFENDS TARIFFS

"This is about an America First agenda, but America First does mean working with the rest of the world," he said, before Mrs Merkel and Mr Macron's appearances.

"It just means that President Trump is looking out for American interests, no different than other leaders look out for their own."

US Commerce Secretary Ross defended the tariffs and said Washington would not flinch from reprisals against countries that flout the rules.

"Trade wars are fought every single day... and unfortunately every single day there are various parties violating the rules and trying to take unfair advantage," Mr Ross said.

"Trade wars have been in place for quite a little while. The difference is the US troops are now coming to the ramparts."

The European heavyweights stepped up to position themselves as a counterweight to Mr Trump's "America First" agenda.

France and Germany urged world powers and businesses to make globalisation serve the masses and not just the few.

"Globalisation today is going through a major crisis" and "those who have been left behind" must be defended, Mr Macron said in a speech.

"The question is to know if we are able to recreate a true global contract that does not only belong to governments." - AFP

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