Trade and industry minister Davies sees rising unilateralism as trade war escalates

JOHANNESBURG, May 24 (ANA) - South Africa, like the rest of the global economy, will continue to be collateral damage in the escalating trade war between China and the United States, trade and industry minister Rob Davies has said, predicting a worrying rise in unilateral actions by individual states.

Davies cast doubt on the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) ability to diffuse the standoff, saying it had been hobbled by the United States government's blocking of nominations to its appellate body, which settles disputes between member countries.

Speaking to the African News Agency by telephone on Thursday from Paris, where he attended an informal gathering of WTO ministers on the sidelines of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development meeting, Davies said South Africa had already been affected by tariffs imposed by the US on steel and aluminium products in the earlier stages of the trade war.

"Although we were not a major target, we were affected and I said then we were collateral damage in this trade war," he said, adding that the tussle was really a manifestation of the race between the world's leading economies for technological supremacy.

"It’s about leadership or hegemony over the fourth industrial revolution -- whose technologies are going to be the dominant technologies," he said.

South Africa's stance was that it would not back one claim over another, but rather advocate for an equitable roll-out.

"We want to be able to choose whichever technologies suit us best in our own developmental challenges, in our own sovereign decisions that we may take," he said.

"This is going in the direction of very serious wrestling between the two largest economies and I’m sure that will have all kinds of implications for the growth of the world economy and also indeed on us in various ways; I don’t think we understand at this point in time exactly what they will be."

- African News Agency (ANA)

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