WTO lowers trade growth forecast
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday slashed its 2019 trade growth forecast to 1.2% percent from a 2.6% rise predicted in April.
The Geneva-based body blamed the sharp downgrade on escalating trade tensions, as well as Brexit uncertainty in Europe.
"The darkening outlook for trade is discouraging but not unexpected," WTO director general Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.
WTO economists had warned during its annual forecast in April that systemic threats to global trade — notably retaliatory tariffs between China and the United States — would continue to hamper the flow of goods.
Tuesday's warning came amid a long-running trade spat between the two world powers, which showed no sign of ending, despite face-to-face negotiations in Shanghai in July.
Last month, the US imposed a 15% levy on more than $125 billion (€115 billion) in Chinese imports including smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones, books, diapers and footwear.
The additional US measures were added to the 25% tariffs on $250 billion in imports already in place.
China has issued its own tit-for-tat tariffs, taxing about $120 billion worth of US goods.
Some have been hit with multiple increases, while about $50 billion of US goods is unaffected, likely to avoid disrupting Chinese industries.
US President Donald Trump has accused China of using predatory tactics, including forcing foreign companies to hand over technology and stealing trade secrets. The dispute has weighed on global markets and soured relations between Washington and Beijing.
The two sides have agreed to hold further discussions in Washington in early October, later than expected.
The WTO also said on Tuesday that North America showed the fastest growth of exports of any region in the first half of the year, at 1.4%, although the rise of imports into North America were also greater than elsewhere, at 1.8%.