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WTO chief warns of ‘really big impact’ on trade if Israel-Hamas conflict widens

World Commerce Group (WTO) Director-Common Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attends the Constructing Bridges convention in Geneva, Switzerland, on 2 October, 2023. Reuters File

World Commerce Group chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala mentioned she hoped the Israel-Hamas battle might be ended shortly, warning it will have a “really big impact” on already weak international commerce flows if it widened all through the area.

Okonjo-Iweala, in Morocco for this week’s annual conferences of the Worldwide Financial Fund and World Financial institution, mentioned Center East violence may add to components throttling commerce development, together with larger rates of interest, a strained Chinese language property market and Russia’s warfare in Ukraine.

“We hope this ends soon and it’s contained. Our biggest fear is if it widens, because that will then have a really big impact on trade,” she mentioned in an interview. “Everybody’s on eggshells and hoping for the best.”

Okonjo-Iweala mentioned international uncertainty was already limiting development in commerce, however that will be exacerbated by the sudden onset of warfare between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group that controls the Gaza Strip

“There is uncertainty about whether this is going to spread further to the whole region, which could impact very much on global economic growth,” she mentioned. “We hope it will end because it does create this uncertainty. It’s another dark cloud on the horizon.”

The Geneva-based commerce physique final week halved its development forecast for international items commerce this yr, citing persistent inflation, larger rates of interest, the slowing Chinese language financial system and the warfare in Ukraine.

The WTO mentioned merchandise commerce volumes would enhance by simply 0.8% in 2023, in contrast with its April estimate of 1.7%.

For 2024, it mentioned items commerce development could be 3.3%, a forecast just about unchanged from its April estimate of three.2%.

The 164-member group repeated its warning that it noticed some indicators of commerce fragmentation linked to international tensions, however no proof of a broader de-globalization that might threaten its 2024 forecast.



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