The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

The head of the World Trade Organization warned that the global economy would plunge into the “Dark Ages” without free trade.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said: If “the WTO and the global trading system is out of the picture, we’re in for the Dark Ages, I guarantee you that.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has disrupted the post-World War II trend toward ever-freer world trade, imposing taxes on foreign steel, aluminum and hundreds of Chinese imports.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom warned of “threats” to free trade. In a clear reference to Trump’s America, she said: “We have countries who are acting on their own, disregarding global rules and undermining the global trading system.”

But she said the momentum toward freer trade hasn’t stopped, noting that 11 Pacific Rim countries went ahead with a regional trade pact even after Trump withdrew from the deal in 2017 and that the EU has recently negotiated trade agreements with Japan, Canada and other countries.

___

10:15 a.m.

The fallout from developments in Venezuela and uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union are set to be key points of discussions Thursday at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos.

Following two days when much of the debate has centered on issues related to global trade, particularly the dispute between the United States and China, and climate change, the world’s political and business elites are digesting what’s going on in Venezuela, after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

Brexit will also feature heavily, with British ministers due to address the Forum on Thursday, including Treasury chief Philip Hammond. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is also due to appear before a panel as is World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo.

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella addresses the audience of a session at the annual meeting of the the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella addresses the audience of a session at the annual meeting of the the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a session at annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a session at annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, makes a phone call during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, right, makes a phone call during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Jan. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.