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World trade body warns US-China tensions may dent business

World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Brazilian Roberto Azevedo speaks during a press briefing about the WTO's World Trade Report 2017 at the organization's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on April 12, 2018. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization predicts continued trade growth this year, though it warns that tensions and "tit-for-tat" retaliatory measures, notably between the U.S. and China, could compromise those projections.

    WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo laid out the trade body's predictions at a news conference Thursday amid concerns about a trade war over U.S. President Donald Trump's planned tariffs on Chinese and other goods and Beijing's retaliation.

    As it stands, the forecast is for 4.4 percent growth in merchandise trade volumes in 2018, easing to 4 percent next year. That's down from 4.7 percent in 2017.

    The WTO is pointing to "broadly positive signs" in world trade but says they face headwinds from "a rising tide of anti-trade sentiment and the increased willingness of governments to employ restrictive trade measures."

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