Geneva: US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have indicated they are ready for a highly anticipated meeting at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Argentina next week.
Trump told reporters on Thursday that China wants to make a deal “very badly" after his administration placed tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. On Friday, top Chinese officials in Beijing outlined details of Xi’s upcoming travels, including a meeting with Trump in Buenos Aires.
The world’s biggest economies have been engaged in an escalating trade war that is starting to affect financial markets and stymie global growth. On Friday, Wall Street Journal reported that the US government is contacting key allies to get them to persuade telecom companies in their countries to avoid using equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co.
US officials have briefed their counterparts in friendly countries where Huawei equipment is already in wide use, including Germany, Italy and Japan, about cybersecurity risks, the report said.
The escalating trade war has led to a spike in the number and value of import-restrictive measures implemented in G20 countries, according to figures released by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Thursday. The measures now cover more than $480 billion worth of trade in the five months to mid-October, according to the WTO’s latest monitoring report on G20 trade.
The report of measures adopted by the G20 countries coincided with relentless finger-pointing and accusations by the world’s two largest economies during several meetings at the trade body. At a dispute settlement body meeting on 21 November, the US said China’s non-market economic policies are the biggest threat to the trade body, while China charged the US with flagrantly violating its WTO commitments.
The WTO report said “the estimated $481 billion in trade coverage of these measures imposed by G20 economies from mid-May to mid-October 2018 is more than six times larger than that recorded in the previous reporting period and the largest since this measure was first calculated in 2012".
The report expressed fears of further escalation of trade restrictive measures because of the ongoing trade war, an analyst familiar with the findings said on condition of anonymity.
The WTO said that “the trade coverage of new import-facilitating measures ($216 billion) rose significantly during this period but is less than half of trade-restrictive measures".
The report, said WTO chief Roberto Azevedo, provides “a first factual insight into the trade-restrictive measures which have been introduced over recent months, and which cover over $480 billion worth of trade".
Without naming the US and China, Azevedo suggested “further escalation remains a real threat", cautioning that “if we continue along the current course, the economic risks will increase, with potential effects for growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world."
The report says that a total of 40 new trade-restrictive measures were applied by G20 economies during the review period, including tariff increase, import bans and export duties. G20 economies also implemented 33 new measures aimed at facilitating trade during the review period, including eliminating or reducing import tariffs and export duties.
In this period, the G20 economies also resorted to a higher number of new trade remedy investigations compared to the number of trade remedy actions they terminated. Iron and steel and their products were subjected to the highest number of trade remedy measures.
According to the WTO, “the proliferation of trade-restrictive actions and the uncertainty created by such actions could place economic recovery in jeopardy—further escalation would carry potentially large risks for global trade, with knock-on effects for economic growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world". The global trade body urged the G20 economies to use “all means at their disposal to de-escalate the situation".