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WTO: Trade Growth Slows, Crimps Economy; Faces Political Challenges


Roberto Azevedo (L), director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), greets Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox (R) before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2016.

Global trade is set to grow at the slowest pace since the financial crisis, which World Trade Organization officials say should be a "wake up" call. Tuesday's WTO report says trade will grow just 1.7 percent this year, a sharp decrease from earlier predictions.

The report blames faltering trade on slowing demand for goods, changes in global supply chains, and rising political sentiment to protect domestic industries from foreign competition.

One example of the unpopularity of trade agreements came Monday evening at the U.S. presidential debate where Republican candidate Donald Trump blamed flawed trade deals for a host of economic problems, and Democrat Hillary Clinton also criticized some trade agreements.

A separate report from the International Monetary Fund says the lack of trade agreements is one reason for slow trade growth. Supporters of trade deals say they cut barriers to commerce and reduce the cost of goods.

Many economists say growing trade helps economies expand by increasing competition and encouraging companies to locate production where it is most efficient.

That argument has apparently not persuaded tens of millions of U.S. voters who tell public opinion polls they support the Trump campaign, which promises a much tougher approach to trade negotiations.