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Even As Uncertainty Weighs, World Trade Seen Growing 2.4 Percent In 2017: WTO

Even As Uncertainty Weighs, World Trade Seen Growing 2.4 Percent In 2017: WTO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Wednesday that though there is "deep uncertainty" about economic and policy developments, particularly in the United States, world trade is on track to expand by 2.4 percent this year.
While making a general appeal to resist protectionism, more clarity  was still needed on U.S. President Donald Trump's trade policies, said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo.
He said that more predictability for investors should be provided by the results of upcoming elections in major economies including France.
The WTO said that from 1.8 to 3.1 percent last September, the range for growth this year has been adjusted to between 1.8 and 3.6 percent.
"We should see trade as part of the solution to economic difficulties, not part of the problem," Azevedo said.
"Overall I think that while there are some reasons for cautious optimism, trade growth remains fragile and there are considerable risks on the downside. Much of the uncertainty around the outlook is political," he told a news conference.
"We need to keep strengthening the system, delivering new reforms, and resisting the erection of new barriers to trade."
As predictions of economic recovery prove overly optimistic, the WTO has repeatedly revised preliminary estimates over the past five years.
Failing to match even its revised forecast of 1.7 percent of last September, global trade grew by "an usually low" 1.3 percent in 2016, the slowest pace since the financial crisis.
"The poor performance over the year was largely due to a significant slowdown in emerging markets where imports basically stagnated last year, barely growing in volume terms," Azevedo said.
In WTO's latest analysis, global trade is forecast to grow by between 2.1 percent and 4 percent in WTO's latest analysis in 2018.
"A spike in inflation leading to higher interest rates, tighter fiscal policies and the imposition of measures to curtail trade could all undermine higher trade growth over the next two years," it warned.
To try to grow American manufacturing jobs, Trump has made reducing U.S. trade deficits a key focus of his economic agenda. Renegotiating trade relationships with China and Mexico has been made the key aim by him.
A Trump administration official reportedly said that supplemental duties in certain product categories could result as Trump is considering an executive order to launch a trade investigation.
"If policymakers attempt to address job losses at home with severe restrictions on imports, trade cannot help boost growth and may even constitute a drag on the recovery," Azevedo said.
an "America First" strategy to aggressively enforce U.S. laws and trade deals to stop unfair imports and push China to scrap excess factory capacity has been pledge by the new U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) nominee Richard Lighthizer and Azevedo said he was awaiting confirmation of man to the chair.
"We are waiting to see the new trade team really in place, waiting for the new USTR to be confirmed so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue at this point in time we don't have that. We are still waiting to see how the trade policy itself is going to shape up in the United States."

Christopher J. Mitchell

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