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WTO concerned about fragmentation of global trade

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director of the World Trade Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

Unsurprisingly, the war in Ukraine and recent lockdowns in China have prompted the World Trade Organization (WTO) to revise its forecast for 2022 goods trade growth to 3%, from 4.7% earlier. However, these forecasts, published on Tuesday, April 12, are highly uncertain as they are in a very wide range, between 0.5% and 5.5%.

“Despite their small shares in world trade and manufacturing, Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of essential commodities, including food, energy and fertilizers,” observes the organization, based in Geneva. The two countries account for 2.5% of world trade, but provide 25% of wheat supplies and 45% of sunflower products. These shortages, which in turn lead to higher food prices, could be exacerbated by export restrictions in other countries. this one “threatening millions of people with hunger and poverty”according to the WTO, which calls for “international cooperation” to ensure the free movement of agricultural commodities. “This is not the time to withdraw into ourselves. In a crisis, more trade is needed to ensure stable and equitable access to basic needs.” insisted the director of the organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Economic Sanctions

Despite these uncertainties, the WTO draws attention to the ongoing transformation of the world trade landscape, disrupted by two successive shocks: the global pandemic, which disrupted supply chains, and the war in Ukraine, which robbed part of the world of its stocks of agricultural products. goods. The organization first fears a “fragmentation” world trade in “geopolitical blocks” which could lead to companies reorganizing their supply chains to deal with these risks and decoupling economies. “This could reduce global GDP by about 5% in the long run, mainly by limiting competition and stifling innovation,” estimate the setting in a recent note.

“Block logic is not yet installed, even if geopolitical concerns are more important in trade relations, tempers Sébastien Jeanholder of the chair of industrial economics at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM), and political logic will only apply to certain sectors that are considered strategic. †

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