Macron tells OECD Ministers to support int’l trade reforms

PARIS, French President Emmanuel Macron urged on Wednesday the industrialized nations, meeting at ministerial level, to support trade reforms that would help stave off a trade war and make for a “level playing field” for international exchanges, according to official statements from the Elysee Palace.

Addressing the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the French leader, who has been calling on the United States to renounce plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, warned that such action could provoke retaliation and lead to a trade war which would harm all parties.

US President Donald Trump has accused many countries of unfair trade practices and is threatening a 25 percent import tariff on steel and a 10 percent levy on aluminum imports to the United States.

While opposed to the tariffs, Macron has said that reforms should be put in place in the World Trade Organization (WTO) as there are disparities and unfair practices that are not being addressed.

Trump has initially exempted European Union countries from the steel and aluminum tariffs but only on a temporary basis while the EU is calling for a permanent exemption and has threatened retaliatory sanctions if this is not done.

Macron told the meeting that sanctions and tariffs “won’t fix anything” and he warned that in a trade war “everyone loses”.

Reform of the WTO is necessary and we must find a “collective response,” Macron said in his speech.

He urged major economic powerhouses and the Group of 20 (G20) wealthiest nations to work together to agree on reforms that would improve trade rules.

Macron’s position was largely backed by most of the OECD membership, whose secretariat warned that the threat of a trade war was undermining confidence in the markets and the economy, particularly for investment and job prospects.

The US did not back the OECD position and distanced itself from the organisation’s closing statement.

Source: Kuwait News Agency