Watchdog warns trade tariffs would slow world growth upswing

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstroem, center, meets with Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at EU headquarters in Brussels on Saturday, March 10, 2018. The EU is still seeking clarity from Washington about whether the 28-nation bloc will be exempt from U.S. President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. (Stephanie Lecocq, Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS — As the U.S. prepares to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a world economic watchdog warned Tuesday that such barriers will hurt economic growth globally.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a policy adviser to developed economies, said that while the global economy is improving, "trade protectionism remains a key risk that would negatively affect confidence, investment and jobs."

"Governments should avoid escalation," it said in an update to its forecasts.

The statement was a veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs without resorting to international arbitration.

The OECD expects world economic growth to accelerate to 3.9 percent this year and next, from 3.7 percent in 2017. It expects the U.S. to accelerate thanks to lower taxes, and sees a pick-up also in several developing countries. By contrast, it predicts a gradual slowdown in the 19-country eurozone, Britain, China and Japan.

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