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Opinion

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, DG WTO warns world leaders on Israel-Hamas war

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has warned world leaders to quickly end the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants or risk a “really big impact” on global trade.

Okonjo-Iweala said this on Thursday at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Marrakesh, Morocco, stressing that the Middle East violence could add to factors strangulating trade growth.

The WTO boss factors like higher interest rates, a strained Chinese property market and Russia’s war in Ukraine have already weakened global trade flows, warning that the war could escalate to the Middle East region.

“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 said. “Everybody’s on eggshells and hoping for the best.”

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

The Geneva-based trade body last week halved its growth forecast for global goods trade this year, citing persistent inflation, higher interest rates, the slowing Chinese economy and the war in Ukraine.

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