Potential trade war threatens global economic growth, OECD warns


Rebounding global business investment would keep global trade growth at about 5 percent this year, the OECD forecast.

The UK trails last out of the G20 economies in OECD growth projections for both 2018 and 2019, with Britain's rate of GDP increase declining in both years while many other countries surge ahead.

The higher forecast was in part due to expectations that USA tax cuts would boost economic growth there, it said.

U.S. economic growth is tipped for a rise from 2017's 2.3% to 2.9% this year and 2.8% in 2019, on the back of tax cuts and spending increases under President Donald Trump.

The OECD also warned of risks linked to the Group of 20 countries having total debt amounting to over 200 per cent of economic output, and stock valuations being at their highest since the early part of the century.

However, it said the global economy was vulnerable to an eruption of trade tensions after the Trump administration imposed import tariffs on steel and aluminum, a move that is expected to prompt retaliation from Europe and others.

OECD Acting Chief Economist Alvaro Pereira observed: "In this environment, an escalation of trade tensions would be damaging for growth and jobs".

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The body forecasts growth will slump to 1.2 per cent over the course of this year and 1.1 per cent in 2019, as the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

The Paris-based organisation said the world economy was on course to expand at an annual pace of 3.9% over the next two years.

By contrast, growth in the global economy is expected to strengthen further from its six-year high of 3.7% in 2017 to reach 3.9% in 2018 and 2019. The OECD, which groups 35 developed economies, called on the world's major nations to avoid a dispute that could impede trade, demand, competition and, ultimately, the health of the global economy.

"Safeguarding the rules-based global trading system is essential to prevent the longer-term harm to growth prospects that could arise from a retreat from open markets", it said.

The OECD forecast the US economy would grow 2.9 percent this year and 2.8 percent in 2019, with tax cuts adding 0.5-0.75 percentage points to the outlook in both years.

In its interim economic outlook report issued Tuesday, the organization forecast global economic growth for this year at 3.9 percent, up from its previous suggestion of 3.7 percent.

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