Greg Nash

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on Monday said the world is at risk of a trade war in the wake of President Trump’s announced tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

“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. We cannot ignore this risk and I urge all parties to consider and reflect on this situation very carefully,” Azevêdo said. 

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“Once we start down this path, it will be very difficult to reverse direction. An eye for an eye will leave us all blind and the world in deep recession. We must make every effort to avoid the fall of the first dominoes. There is still time,” he continued. 

While Azevêdo did not mention Trump in his most recent statement, he said on Friday the organization was concerned about the administration’s announcement.

“The WTO is clearly concerned at the announcement of US plans for tariffs on steel and aluminum,” the director-general said. “The potential for escalation is real, as we have seen from the initial responses of others.”

“A trade war is in no-one’s interests,” he added. 

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro ripped the WTO in an interview on Sunday.

“A lot of the problem has been the World Trade Organization, which is over 160 countries, and a lot of them simply don’t like us and so we don’t get good results there,” Navarro said.

“But we are fair and reciprocal traders and the World Trade Organization I think needs to change with the times,” he said.

Trump’s announcement of tariffs on aluminum and steel imports have sparked negative reactions from a number of major U.S. allies. 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said last week the European Union would propose new tariffs on big-name American products, such as Harley-Davidson, Levi’s denim and bourbon.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa would take “responsive measures” against the U.S. if Washington imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. 

Tags Donald Trump Tariff World Trade Organization

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