“There are no winners when you increase unilateral tariffs”

Three major shipowners’ associations warn against the impact of the trade war and the rise of protectionist measures that they say have led to a seven-fold increase in import-restrictive trade measures since 2017 and an additional USD 588.3 billion of costs to global trade.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) condemn the escalating trade dispute between the United States and China. Instead of protectionist measures, the shipowners plead for “the preservation and promotion of free trade policies and principles around the world.”

To highlight the negative impact the ongoing trade dispute has on global trade, the associations have presented the World Trade Organization (WTO) with two position papers in which they describe the effects on global trade.

“The papers highlight that there has been a seven-fold increase in import-restrictive trade measures since 2017. This represents an additional USD 588.3 billion of additional costs to global trade. The importance of this representation has been given heightened relevance following the decision by the United States of America to increase import tariffs on certain goods from China,” the associations write.

Best place

ICS, ASA and ECSA want global trade to be guided by the WTO hand have reaffirmed their full support to the organisation. Global trade has thrived under the guidance of the WTO, said ICS deputy secretary general Simon Bennett while addressing the WTO in Geneva.

“It is no coincidence that the massive growth in the global economy and thus the demand for maritime services that has been seen over the past 25 years has followed the WTO’s establishment in 1995. Global maritime trade now exceeds ten billion tonnes of cargo a year, but the efficiency of the shipping sector is dependent on a rules-based trading system,” he said.

“Recently this success story has been the subject of unwarranted criticism and threat by certain governments, including the United States, undermining the WTO’s role as the regulator of international trade. There are no winners when you increase unilateral tariffs, which is why the best place to address disputes is at the WTO.”

The shipowners, therefore, call upon on the global community and WTO Member States to continue to support the WTO and its various functions.

According to the associations, 137 new trade-restrictive measures were put in place between 2017 and 2018 which limit the free movement of goods.

Author: Tobias Pieffers

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