No one can win a trade war, says Xi at Davos

Davos, Jan 17 (IANS) China on Tuesday robustly defended globalisation with its President Xi Jinping arguing at the World Economic Forum here that economic integration has powered human advancement and improved the lives of millions of people.

“Many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalisation,” Xi was quoted as saying by CNN in his address to the forum as the first Chinese President to attend the mega economic summit held annually high in the Swiss mountains.

“Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean you cannot escape from.”

His speech was rich in symbolism with Beijing positioning itself as a global leader at a time when Western powers, and especially the United States, are retreating from the world stage and questioning the particular brand of globalisation that now defines global trade.

“We must remain committed to free trade and investment. We must promote trade and investment liberalisation,” he said.

“No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.”

This year’s meeting coincides with the formal handover of power in the US, with Donald Trump’s inauguration scheduled for January 20, the final day of the forum.

During the election campaign, Trump blasted international trade deals, tapping into a deep well of popular anger over globalisation.

He described one huge US-led trade agreement — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — as a “disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country”.

Xi told Davos delegates that globalisation was a double-edged sword, and people around the world had felt the pain of its failings. But he said it would be a mistake to retreat into isolationism.

“The right thing to do is to seize every opportunity to jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalisation,” he said.

China is already pushing its own free trade deal with leaders from around the Pacific. The forces of globalisation served as a catalyst for China’s economic development, turning the country into a manufacturing and trade powerhouse. As international trade boomed, tens of million of Chinese joined the middle class.