Xi: Trade war has no winner and must be rejected

Chinese President Xi Jinping said there would be no winner in a global trade war, urging fellow developing powers yesterday to reject unilateralism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening of the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday. Xi warned that there would be “no winner” in any trade war and urged developing powers to reject unilateralism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said there would be no winner in a global trade war, urging fellow developing powers yesterday to reject unilateralism in the wake of tariff threats by US President Donald Trump.

Trump’s warnings have given Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa fresh impetus to enhance trade cooperation, and their leaders found a collective voice championing global trade as they began a three-day BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

The meeting of presidents from the trade bloc is the first since Trump’s administration launched a push to rebalance trade multilateralism that Trump has deemed unfair — relationships that the United States once championed.

“We should be resolute in rejecting unilateralism,” Xi said at the opening ceremony.

“A global trade war should be rejected because there will be no winner,” said Xi, who oversees the world’s second-largest economy.

“Unilateralism and protectionism are mounting, dealing a severe blow to multilateralism,” he said. “China will continue to develop itself with its door wide open. We are facing a choice between cooperation and confrontation, between opening up and closed-door policy and between mutual benefit and a beggar-thy-neighbor approach.

“The international community has again reached a new crossroads.”

Xi also said the collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries “is unstoppable and will make global development more balanced.” He urged the BRICS governments to observe international rules, regardless of their size.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for thorough discussions at the summit on the role of trade in promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth.

“We are meeting here at a time when the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges,” he said.

“We are concerned by the rise in unilateral measures that are incompatible with World Trade Organization rules and are worried about the impact of these measures, especially on developing countries.”

Last week, Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on all US$500 billion of imported goods from China. But even South Africa — the continent’s most industrialized economy but a tiny exporter of steel, aluminium and automobiles to the United States — is facing barriers.

South African Trade Minister Rob Davies said it was suffering collateral damage.

He said 7,000 South Africans work in jobs affected by the metals tariffs; an effort to secure an exemption from the US government was unsuccessful.

South Africa has invited the leaders of 22 additional countries to participate in this week’s summit, including 19 from Africa.

The BRICS group, comprising more than 40 percent of the global population, represents some of the biggest emerging economies, but it has struggled to find a unified voice.

Sreeram Chaulia, of the Jindal School of International Affairs in New Delhi, said that BRICS leaders “concur that the US has unleashed punitive trade wars that are hurting all the BRICS members.”

“They have a collective interest in promoting intra-BRICS trade. The urgency this time is greater,” he said.

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