GENEVA, April 3: The World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo on Tuesday stressed the urgency of resolving trade tensions and meeting challenges facing the global economy.
Azevedo made the remarks at a press conference after the WTO announced it lowered its forecast for global trade growth this year from 3.7 percent to 2.6 percent, due to economic uncertainties stemming significantly from trade tensions.
"There is the potential for a slight improvement in 2020. But that is very much dependent on an easing of trade tension over this period," he said. He underlined the increasing urgency of resolving tensions and focusing on "charting a positive path forward for global trade which responds to the real challenges in today's economy."
He warned that trade cannot play its full role in driving GDP growth when levels of uncertainty are so high, stressing that "we all need trade to play its positive role supporting jobs, growth and development around the world."
Azevedo also noted that "over the last year, we have seen a range of new tariffs put in place affecting a widely traded range of goods."
The world needs the rules-based trading system to play its full role in facilitating trade flows and providing stability in international economic relations, he said. Speaking about the ongoing trade talks between the United States and China, Azevedo said "we definitely hope we will hear good news from those conversations," to help lower trade tensions, to reduce the amount of trade barriers, and to diminish the uncertainty for the global market.