Business / Economy

WTO vigilant over growing disputes

By DING QINGFEN (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-22 02:18

The World Trade Organization is staying very vigilant about the growing number of trade disputes in recent months amid a significant slowdown of global trade growth, the chief of the world trade body said.

WTO vigilant over growing disputes

Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO. [Photo/China Daily]

Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO, told China Daily that the deceleration of trade growth has led to increasing trade conflicts, which is "worrying".

"We have to remain very vigilant," he said.

But while trade frictions affect 3 to 4 percent of world trade, Lamy said there hasn't been a big wave of protectionism.

"We have trade frictions, we have trade disputes, we don't have trade wars. One of the great things of the WTO is that there are no trade wars anymore," Lamy said.

World trade will grow by a mere 2.5 percent this year, dragged down by Europe to less than half of the previous 20-year average, the WTO said on Friday.

"It's significantly slower growth of world trade than we expected," said Lamy.

"This should not be surprising. This is just confirmation that the world economic outlook is slowing down."

The WTO report published in July pointed to the global rise of trade protectionism, stating that "a clear trend has emerged in which non-tariff measures are less about shielding producers from import competition and more about the attainment of a broad range of public policy objectives".

Some global institutions, along with developed nations and regions including the EU, also warned about rising trade protectionism.

This is also true with China, which has been victim of trade protectionism for more than a decade. Chinese figures show the first half of this year saw the start of 40 trade remedy investigations into Chinese exports, up 38 percent year-on-year.

"We've clearly witnessed in recent months a rise in the number of disputes we have to adjudicate," Lamy said.

Although the number is lower than in 2000 when it reached a record high, "it is clearly growing and we will have to cope with that and administer the disputes, create the necessary panels, do the necessary work on the procedures."

"We promote keeping opening trade."

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