IMF, WTO, OECD vow to defend free trade against protectionism

The chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came together to defend free trade against creeping protectionist trends.
The chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came together to defend free trade against creeping protectionist trends.PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (AFP) - The chiefs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) vowed on Monday (April 10) to defend free trade against creeping protectionist trends, amid growing global alarm over US President Donald Trump's "America First" call.

"Disappointing trade growth figures and the danger of increasing protectionist tendencies give us a clear incentive to support the international trading system even more," said the statement.

It was also signed by the heads of the World Bank and the Internaional Labour Organisation (ILO), as well as host of the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The WTO has forecasted that global trade would likely grow only within a range of 1.8 per cent to 3.1 per cent this year.

But of greater concern is the Trump administration's attitude towards global commerce.

During his campaign, Trump described the WTO as a "disaster" and promised a more aggressive approach to open up foreign markets to US companies, including threatening to unilaterally imposing tariffs.

The US also refused at a Group of 20 (G-20) nations meeting in March to renew a long-standing anti-protectionist pledge, to the dismay of the group of top developed and developing nations.

At the meeting in Berlin, the leaders of the international organisations and Merkel also stressed the role of the WTO in creating "new growth, employment and development opportunities".

In addition, they underlined their commitment to combating climate change - another key issue that was dropped at the G-20 meeting because of US opposition.