Putin warns trade war risks global economic crisis

Saint Petersburg (AFP) –


Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the world could be heading for an unprecedented economic crisis due to the confrontational trade policy and protectionism being pursued by the United States.

Without directly naming US President Donald Trump, who has slapped on tariffs and pulled out of trade deals, Putin lamented that a new era of protectionism was emerging and "breaking" the free trade system responsible for global prosperity.

"Today we need not trade wars or even trade truces, but trade peace," Putin told an economic summit in Saint Petersburg, also attended by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Global trade rules "should be clear and the same for all".

But "breaking the rules is becoming the rule," Putin said in an apparent jab at Trump, who has abandoned a Pacific free trade deal and forced a renegotiation of the US pact with Canada and Mexico.

The Kremlin leader said that a combination of sanctions, trade barriers and a lack of trust was hugely dangerous.

"A spiral of sanctions and barriers is just beginning and is affecting a growing number of countries and companies," said Putin.

The trade barriers and the mistrust they generate "could lead to a systemic crisis the likes of which the world has not seen before," he said.