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WTO director-general warns of protectionism

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-11 13:27

BUENOS AIRES — The director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) warned Sunday that "the threat of protectionism remains present" and insisted that "trade and technology are solutions" to world development.

Roberto Azevedo made the remarks here at a press conference about the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference alongside Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.

Azevedo revealed that debates during the conference would revolve around "agriculture, services, and fishing subsidies."

He warned that the threat of protectionism remains present, saying in some people's view, trade is treated as a factor that upsets labor markets, and technology is seen as the main cause of this disturbance.

"But we cannot turn our backs on either technology or trade, as they are solutions and not problems," he emphasized.

Speaking of the meeting he will hold with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has criticized the WTO, Azevedo said he would ask "commitment, willingness and flexibility" from Washington.

"I avoid pointing out and accusing people, as we want a collective effort to overcome problems," said the director-general.

Malcorra acknowledged the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference takes place in a "complex context, with questions being asked, but this only reaffirms our commitment to work on reaching consensus."

"There are many pending tasks, many topics that are not finalized, but we will seek to advance in all we can," she said.

Malcorra reiterated the "total and full commitment of the Argentine presidency (of the conference) to build bridges necessary to reach a satisfactory place for all."

The WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference, to be officially held from Monday to Wednesday, will bring together 164 WTO members to make decisions on the rules of global trade.

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