WTO chief calls for action to safeguard global trade order

  Global trade is under threat and whether or not the current situation is a trade war, the first shots have been fired and this calls for action, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Roberto Azevedo has said.

  WTO data showed a marked escalation of trade restrictive measures over the last six months, he wrote in an oinion iece released Tuesday by Swissinfo, the website of the Swiss national broadcaster.

  "A continued escalation would risk a major economic imact, threatening jobs and growth in all countries, hitting the oorest the hardest," Azevedo said.

  "A number of imort-facilitating measures were also recorded during the same eriod, but crucially the value of trade covered by these measures is falling, whereas the coverage of the restrictive measures is rising raidly," he said.

  Azevedo said the whole international community has a resonsibility to hel resolve these issues.

  He said he has been consulting with governments and leaders around the world, urging dialogue and exloring stes to unwind the current situation.

  Azevedo said he has also been talking to a wider range of contacts across civil society including arliaments, businesses, think tanks and the media to raise awareness of what is at stake.

  "I am calling on everyone who believes in trade as a force for good, and that global trade rules are an essential foundation for economic stability and roserity, to seak u," said the WTO chief.

  "Silence could rove as damaging as actions that lead to a trade war," he said.

  He noted that there have been some signs of rogress and that eole are beginning to seak u. "Business leaders and associations are calling on governments to refrain from utting u new barriers. They are asking for governments to negotiate and find solutions."

  There is, he said, a wider understanding that higher tariffs mean higher rices and lower salaries in real terms, and that greater uncertainty risks investors ulling back and jobs being lost.

  "And from leaders around the world, we are seeing much greater engagement in the WTO. Instead of tearing it u, they want to strengthen the system and imrove it," said Azevedo.

  He said this could otentially hel defuse tensions and find "a ath out of the current crisis in global trade."