OSLO, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said Friday protectionism is a wrong remedy for economic uncertainty as anti-trade sentiments are rising in the world, especially in the United States and Europe.
"We have to be mindful of the fact that there is a lot of uncertainty in the world today, and populations in the advanced economies are uncomfortable with that," Azevedo told a joint press conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.
Azevedo, who is in Olso to participate in a two-day informal meeting of over 20 trade ministers from around the world to discuss the WTO's future work, noted that the problem is the "wrong diagnosis" amid rising anti-trade sentiments.
"The problem is not trade. The problem is that you have a lot of displacement in the labor market, uncertainties in the labor market, which is due mostly to new technologies, innovation and automation," he said.
The WTO chief said trade is responsible for less than 20 percent of the job losses anywhere in advanced economies and over 80 percent of them are due to new technology, innovation and high productivity.
"If you don't understand the forces behind the discontent with the uncertainty that you see today in societies, you will get the wrong diagnosis," Azevedo said.
"If the diagnosis is trade, if the remedy, the medicine, is protectionism, you will be hurting the patient," said Azevedo.
"If you introduce protectionism, if you raise barriers, if you stop trade, the biggest losers are going to be the ones who are complaining," Azevedo said, adding that whose with lower income will be more affected.
In a speech to the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise on Friday, Azevedo said a number of steps can be taken domestically and globally in response to the challenges.
"First, we need to act domestically. While trade has fuelled growth and development around the world, it is the task of domestic policy to ensure that countries are ready to compete and disseminate the benefits in an equitable way," he said.
"Second, we must act globally. We have to act to kick-start trade growth. We have to ensure that the system is open, that it is truly available to all, and that it continues to deliver those benefits that we want more people to enjoy," Azevedo said.