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WTO warns of global trade slowdown as indicator hits 9-year low

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 19, 2019 - Duration: 01:31s

WTO warns of global trade slowdown as indicator hits 9-year low

A quarterly leading indicator of world merchandise trade slumped to its lowest reading in nine years on Tuesday, which should put policymakers on guard for a sharper slowdown if trade tensions continue, the World Trade Organization said on Tuesday.

David Pollard reports.

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WTO warns of global trade slowdown as indicator hits 9-year low

A warning on trade ..... From the global body that regulates it.

The WTO - or World Trade Organisation - sees the threat of a broader economic downturn ahead, it says ... Unless trade tensions are reduced.

On that front, there were efforts on Tuesday: Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met with a US delegation in Beijing ... Ahead of a new round of trade talks in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN GENG SHUANG, SAYING: "We hope China and the United States can work hard and meet each other halfway ....." But Tuesday's headlines also point to tariff tensions for Germany.

At 294 billion dollars, it recorded the world's largest current account surplus in 2018 - for the third year running.

The data a potential flashpoint with Washington - amid expectations it may slap tariffs of up to 25 per cent on German car imports .... By designating those imports a national security threat.

(SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKET ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "It's unacceptable that German cars pose no danger to American national security if they are produced in the United States but that they are a threat if they're produced in Germany and exported to the U.S.." The WTO warning came with its quarterly indicator on trade.

A reading of 96.3 - where anything below 100 signals below-trend trade growth - was its weakest in nine years.

And - in a sign Europe's exports are taking a hit - the EU's monthly current account surplus slid in December to 16 billion euros - from 23 billion the month before.

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