Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organization, confirmed on Thursday that growth in global trade would remain below four percent this year and urged governments against protectionism.
Annual growth in world trade has averaged six percent over the past 15 years, but this year "we will be below four percent," Lamy told France's BFM radio, blaming the slowdown on a sluggish world economy.
But Lamy said the rough patch should not be an excuse for political leaders to give in to protectionism "which makes no sense."
"The world has crossed this crisis without a protectionist tsunami, but there are preoccupying signs that the WTO is watching over closely," Lamy said.
In April, the WTO warned that world trade growth, which slowed in 2011 after a big rebound in 2010, would weaken again this year and grow by 5.6 percent in 2013.