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World trade to grow by 2.4% in 2017, says WTO

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Harare - The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is forecasting that global trade will expand by 2.4% in 2017, but only if the global economy recovers as expected and governments pursue the right policy mix.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, WTO director general Roberto Azevêdo, said the WTO expects world trade growth to rebound to 2.4% in 2017.

“However, because of the high level of economic and policy uncertainty, we are placing this figure within a range from 1.8% to 3.6%,” he said.

“Looking ahead to 2018, we are forecasting trade growth between 2.1% and 4.0%. Again, this is subject to the same uncertainties.”

Azevedo however said the imposition of trade restrictive measures and monetary tightening raises the risk that trade activity will be stifled.

“Closing the borders to trade would only worsen the situation — it would not bring the jobs back, it would make more jobs disappear,” he said.

“We need to keep using trade to deliver more benefits to more people. More trade integration can help make the system more inclusive — connecting new industries and smaller players to new markets.”

He added that trade has the potential to strengthen global growth if the movement of goods and supply of services across borders remains largely unfettered.

"However, if policymakers attempt to address job losses at home with severe restrictions on imports, trade cannot help boost growth and may even constitute a drag on the recovery"

Azevedo said the answer to global economic growth is for governments to pursue policies that reap the benefits from trade, while also applying horizontal solutions to unemployment which embraces better education and training and social programmes that can quickly help get workers back on their feet and ready to compete for the jobs of the future.

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