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WTO and OECD Heads Call on Members to Avoid Escalation in Trade Barriers

Thursday, March 08, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo recently warned of the adverse impact an escalation in trade barriers would have on global economic growth. Azevêdo said that in light of recent announcements on trade policy measures “it is clear that we now see a much higher and real risk of triggering an escalation of trade barriers across the globe.” Members should reflect and avoid escalation, he advised, because “once we start down this path, it will be very difficult to reverse direction” and the world will be left in “deep recession.” Accordingly, every effort should be made to “avoid the fall of the first dominoes.”

Regarding the impasse in the selection process for new Appellate Body members, Azevêdo urged members to actively formulate and discuss solutions to this “extremely serious and urgent concern for all” because the dispute settlement function underpins the whole trading system. Azevêdo vowed to facilitate further conversations on this issue, as he encouraged members to learn from the experience of the Buenos Aires ministerial conference and find ways of increasing their current levels of flexibility.

Meanwhile, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on March 6 called on the governments of steel-producing economies to address the root causes of the current steel crisis through multilateral approaches, particularly the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. According to Gurría, the forum remains the only long-term solution to this “entrenched problem” and must therefore “accelerate its efforts” by taking “swift and tangible action” this year, including at its ministerial meeting to be held in June.

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