UN chief warns of growing threat to global trading system

(MENAFN) During a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Secretary-General António Guterres sounded the alarm on Wednesday regarding the escalating risk of fragmentation within the international trade system. Guterres highlighted the mounting geopolitical tensions and cautioned against the world descending into competing blocs, emphasizing the need for unity in the face of challenges.

Addressing the audience in Geneva, Guterres underscored the multifaceted challenges confronting the global trade landscape. He pointed to the growing geopolitical tensions, widening economic disparities, and the severe impact of the climate crisis, particularly on developing nations. Moreover, Guterres highlighted the emergence of new conflicts alongside longstanding ones, all of which pose significant threats to the global economy.

Guterres characterized trade as a double-edged sword, acknowledging its role as both a driver of prosperity and a perpetuator of inequality. He noted the complexities inherent in contemporary trade dynamics, including the intertwined issues of interdependence and dependency, economic progress, and environmental degradation.

The concerns raised by Guterres echo warnings from other prominent international institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These organizations have been sounding the alarm for months about the phenomenon of geo-economic fragmentation, wherein countries increasingly favor regional or bloc-based trade over global engagement.

In April of the previous year, IMF Director-General Kristalina Georgieva cautioned that nations must take concerted action to avert the costly repercussions of global trade fragmentation and to prevent the onset of what she described as a "second Cold War." Similarly, since the onset of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has consistently highlighted the perils associated with the fragmentation of the global economy.

The remarks made by Guterres underscore a growing recognition within the international community of the urgent need to address the challenges facing the global trade system and to pursue cooperative solutions to mitigate the risks of fragmentation and division.



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