World

WTO, other int'l organisations vow to defend free trade

BERLIN: The chiefs of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development vowed in a joint statement to defend free trade against creeping protectionist trends.

"Disappointing trade growth figures and the danger of increasing protectionist tendencies give us a clear incentive to support the international trading system even more," said the Monday statement, also signed by the heads of the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation, as well as host of the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The WTO has forecast that global trade would likely grow only within a range of 1.8 per cent to 3.1 per cent this year.

But of greater concern is the United States and the Trump administration's attitude.

During his election campaign, Mr Donald Trump described the WTO as a "disaster" and promised a more aggressive approach to open up foreign markets to US companies, including threatening to unilaterally impose tariffs.

The US also refused at a G20 meeting in March to renew a long-standing anti-protectionist pledge, to the dismay of some other nations in the grouping.

At the meeting in Berlin, the leaders of the international organisations and Ms Merkel also stressed the role of the WTO in creating "new growth, employment and development opportunities".

They underlined their commitment to combating climate change - another key issue dropped at the G20 meeting because of US opposition. - AFP

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