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WTO chief on risk of trade wars; The story behind Kenya's famous flying doctor. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 17, 2018 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, the director general of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, on slouching towards a trade war between Trump's

America and China and lamenting the emotional battle over Brexit when we should be grappling with the facts.

Plus, an extraordinary story of a high-flying air doctor who harbored a very dark past and the American author who uncovered her truth. My

conversation with the award-winning writer John Heminway.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in Florida today to meet with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort and North Korea will feature

high in their talks, but so too will an issue on which Trump has been remarkably consistent his whole life, and that his trade.

As a businessman, back in the 1980s, it was Japan that had him riled up. Now, it's China and now he's president. So, how dangerous is this period

of tit for tat tariffs and taunts?

Roberto Azevedo is director general of the World Trade Organization and I caught up with him earlier here in London as he was about to take off to

the United States and all these discussions because his organization underpins the entire system of global commerce and trade resolutions.

Mr. Azevedo, welcome to the program. Can you tell us, those of us who are laypeople, are we in the middle of a trade war? Are we on the brink of a

trade war? What is the situation between the United States and China?

ROBERTO AZEVEDO, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE WTO: Technically, we're not in a trade war, but politically we could be moving towards that.

I think the situation is very dear. The US and China are not talking the same language apparently. The situation of the imminence of a trade war,

the possibility that we have a trade war is already bad enough. We already have the economy that is picking up. It's beginning to pick up.

AMANPOUR: The global economy?

AZEVEDO: The global economy. So, this last year was actually pretty good. We expect that this year and the next could be positive as well.

But these tensions, just the fact that a trade war could happen is already affecting the market.

AMANPOUR: And we have seen that, but we've also seen it kind of stabilize a little bit. They're reading everything Trump tweets, everything the

Chinese respond.

So, what does a trade war look like and what is the impact if it gets to exactly that level?

AZEVEDO: There are different levels of trade war. It could be very localized. So, for one or two sectors or something like that. Or it could

be really spread out.

If it is a truly spread-out trade war, and people ask me, what would be the impact, how big is it, how much do we lose. It depends. It depends on the

type and size of the trade war.

We did a study. If we went back to what we had in terms of tariffs before the multilateral system was established, the global economy would probably

contract by 2.4 percent just like that and 60 percent of global trade will disappear.

AMANPOUR: Sixty percent?

AZEVEDO: Sixty percent.

AMANPOUR: That's huge.

AZEVEDO: That's bigger than the effect of the crisis after 2008.

AMANPOUR: Wow! So, it would much worse than the - what we call the deep recession of 2008.

AZEVEDO: Exactly. But that is if we have a full out trade war, which, let's hope, it's not going to happen.

AMANPOUR: Right now, as we've been saying, the tariffs are a threat. We're on the verge of, but not quite over the edge yet.

And a week or so ago, President Trump tweeted that, "President Xi and I will always be friends no matter what happens with our dispute on trade.

China will take down its trade barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become reciprocal and a deal will be made on intellectual

property. Great future for both countries!"

What if he's wrong?

AZEVEDO: I think the concerns are not wrong. The concerns are a fact.

AMANPOUR: No. I meant, what if he's wrong that China doesn't take those steps that he's saying that it will?

AZEVEDO: I think China is ready to have a conversation. I really do. I think China would be willing to sit down at the table and have a

conversation. They told me personally that that's what they would like to do, but they find it difficult to get to the kind of space in terms of the

type of conversation, the kind of objectives of that conversation that are necessary to have before they actually begin the conversation.

AMANPOUR: Because too much is happening in the Twitter sphere and not enough -

AZEVEDO: There is not enough -

[14:05:02] AMANPOUR: - face-to-face talks.

AZEVEDO: I think there is not enough understanding on what is being sought.

AMANPOUR: So, what is being sought? Do you understand what's being sought? You said several times now that there are concerns. You imply

that President Trump, United States has legitimate concerns with aspects of China's trade practices.



AZEVEDO: I think some things have been said in the press and overtly that reciprocity, that China should open the economy, but all these things are

not that easy to translate into negotiating terms.

Saying something like that is easy for the political establishment to understand, for the public opinion to understand, but for a negotiator, on

the other side, it's not that clear. They need more clarity, they need more details to know exactly what is being sought.

Intellectual property, for example. Intellectual property is an extremely technical area. If you don't sit down and explain exactly what you're

talking about, the other side will be guessing.

AMANPOUR: So, what would your advice be to the Trump administration and to the Chinese about this current impasse?

AZEVEDO: I have been asking both sides to sit down and talk and have a conversation. It's not that obvious for the reasons we just talked about,

but I think that the moment of tactical moves where you make threats, where you make public statements, which are important in this context as well, is

not going to do the trick. That is not going to disarm the tension and we need more than that to get to a real solution finding mode conversation.

AMANPOUR: And it not only might not do the trick, but it might have the - might have the side effect of exacerbating a situation and making it much

worse than it is now.

AZEVEDO: It could because the most difficult scenario is one where you say and expect things publicly and you do it in such a way that the other side

is politically unable to accept.

AMANPOUR: Because their back is against the wall?

AZEVEDO: Yes. And they have a public opinion too. They have constituencies on the other side too. They have a face to save on the

other side as well, both sides. So, if you go too far, you make it impossible for the other side to react and that judgment call is very


AMANPOUR: Do you think that China is playing it kind of smart. Some of the tariffs that it is suggesting hit right to the heart of the Trump voter

base - farmland, the middle United States states and that kind of stuff.

We're already hearing even supporters express real worry about what a trade situation like this could mean for them.

AZEVEDO: That's textbook tactics. When you are threatened by a measure from another country, if you are going to respond in some way, you make

sure that it will hurt. And they go for the right - so, this is not new. Everybody does that in the trade arena.

AMANPOUR: The bottom line is that for a long, long time, President Trump has had this fairly standard and clear view on trade. And his view is that

the United States is getting had, that the United States is being played as a fool.

So, let me just play you this sound bite which comes from a long time ago just to give you an idea of where all this started for him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I believe it's very important that you have free trade, but we don't have free trade right now

because if you want to go to Japan or if you want to go to Saudi Arabia, various other countries, it's virtually impossible for an American to do

business in those countries.


AMANPOUR: So, that was with Larry King live on CNN. It was back in 1987. I mean, that's a long time ago. I mean, the bottom line is, is he right?

Is the United States unfairly shut out of various places? Does the United States get the raw end of a lot of these deals?

AZEVEDO: I wouldn't go as far as to say the United States is a loser in these deals, but I would say that he is not the only one in the global

arena to believe that trade could be improved and that it could be freer, it could be more open and with less distortions with governments

intervening less and letting the market play its part. So, in that sense, I think that he would have company in the global scenario.

Having said that, it's how you go about that. You will notice in his speech that he was talking about Japan at that point in time. Now, it's

China. And it will keep moving. Every time, there will be a new actor, there will be somebody else. There would be new challenges, new threats.

And the solution for that is not to shut down. It's to sit down like it was done with Japan back in the 80s and figure out the solution. I suppose

with China, the roads should be similar.

AMANPOUR: Just quickly again on this issue, he said that trade wars are good and easy to win. Is that true?

[14:10:02] AZEVEDO: I would disagree with that. Definitely. I think trade wars are not good. They're detrimental. Everybody loses, especially

the poor people.

If you take away trade, the purchasing power of the poor segment of the economy, they lose about 63 percent of their purchasing power. So, if they

make $100 a week, they will be making then 37 in terms of purchasing power.

AMANPOUR: We're sitting here in London. Brexit has swallowed up the oxygen for nearly two years now. How do you judge the debate? I mean, all

we hear about is politics and speeches and it's a very difficult subject to get your head around. And it doesn't look like the public arena is being

given the benefit of the difficulty and the complex nature of this.

AZEVEDO: You say often that you seek the truth, right? That you're going for the truth. The problem with the truth in trade is that it's usually

not what it looks like.

Politically, it's very easy to use certain kinds of arguments, certain kinds of approaches and the public understands those simple things.

Trade is not simple. It's extremely complex. So, if you really want to go for the truth, you'll have to look behind the numbers. I'll give you one

clear example.

This push back on the imports or cheap imports or trade is disruptive, trade is destroying my job, is destroying my industry, et cetera, trade is

disruptive sometimes, but the reality is that today new technologies and innovation are a much bigger disruptive force than trade.

Eight out of ten jobs that are lost in today's economy, they are lost with new technologies. They are not lost to imports. So, going for the truth

here is a much tougher proposition.

AMANPOUR: So, what happens when people wake up and Brexit has happened and suddenly you're under WTO rules if no major deals are worked out with the

EU, what are people going to see? What's going to be on their plate?

AZEVEDO: It's going to be different, for sure. How much different? That's difficult to quantify. But it will be different.

AMANPOUR: Different better or different worse?

AZEVEDO: It will be more challenging for some sectors for sure. Services, for example.

AMANPOUR: You mean jobs.

AZEVEDO: Yes, it could. How big, I don't know.

AMANPOUR: Did we have to be at this place? In other words, was NAFTA, for instance, so broken that it had to take a President Trump to throw it all

up in the air and try to renegotiate or was it going along quite fine for all parties?

AZEVEDO: I am sure that there were sectors and segments of the economic establishment in the US that would like to improve the conditions of trade

with Mexico and Canada. Others were perfectly happy.

This is not only about the economics. It's also about the politics.

AMANPOUR: Some people believe in the chaos theory or being a disruptor. How much disruption can a system take? How much is good disruption? And

at what point does it become unmanageable chaos?

AZEVEDO: In the WTO, it's very interesting because sometimes I hear people say we need a crisis because when a crisis happens, then opportunity shows

up. And we do something different, we think outside the box.

The problem is that a crisis sometimes doesn't end the way you want to. So, it's OK to be vocal and to be disruptive even to ask for the moon and

the sky, things like that, but you have to be extremely careful not to let these things damage your long-term strategies, so that you don't end up in

a worse situation than you were when you began with your political rupture.

AMANPOUR: Roberto Azevedo, thank you so much for being with us.

AZEVEDO: It's my pleasure. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And some really fascinating analysis on a subject that can be quite difficult to actually get to grips with, but now we turn our gaze to

the big open skies of Africa for the remarkable true story of Kenya's most famous flying doctor, Anne Spoerry.

The Swiss woman spent decades flying up and down the countryside caring for more than a million people by some estimates. Her exploits and her

selflessness made her a legend in her own lifetime.

But after she died at the age of 81, her friend and award-winning writer John Heminway discovered a dark truth buried in her past.

The gripping tale is the subject of his new book, "In Full Flight: A Story of Africa and Atonement", and he recently came into our studio to reveal


John Heminway welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, the title of your book indicates there is a reveal. But, first, before we get to that, what drew you in the first place to Anne


[14:15:04] HEMINWAY: Well, I was a young journalist trying to make my way in Africa. I loved doing profiles of characters. And I had come across

many, many characters.

And suddenly, I heard about a woman who was flying - who learned how to fly at a late age and she was helping the rural people of Kenya in a massive

way. It was exponential what she could do with an airplane and a medical degree.

AMANPOUR: I was fascinated to hear and read that the great filmmaker Werner Herzog did a documentary about her. And even greater,

anthropologist Richard Leakey says that perhaps no one did more to save lives in East Africa than Anne Spoerry.


AMANPOUR: What did she do?

HEMINWAY: Well, she did medicine on a massive scale. It was geometric how she could do this. She would land about five times in the course of a day

and all her patients would be waiting for her, either at a mission clinic or under a tree.

And there might be as many as 100 - warriors, their wives, their kids, all had a cough or all had an injury of some sort and she would treat them at

an extraordinary fast-paced way. She had a real instinct for smelling out disease and smelling out a problem and coming up with a cure.

AMANPOUR: And what would you say was her greatest legacy in the medical zone?

HEMINWAY: I think it was probably vaccinating the entire coast of Kenya from at least from Lamy all the way up to the Somali border.

AMANPOUR: When did you start to sense that all was not as it seemed with Anne Spoerry?

HEMINWAY: Well, I was always puzzled why was it every time I asked her about her past - she was very happy to tell me about her childhood in

France and Switzerland. She was very happy to talk about everything, but somehow the years 1939 to about 1948 off-limits. And I pressed her.

I did know a few things. I knew that she had been in the French resistance. And I knew that she had done extraordinary work there, but

after that she wouldn't tell me anything. In fact, she would really cut my head off every time asked.

AMANPOUR: So, how and what did you then discover?

HEMINWAY: So, about a year after she died, I came up with this predicament with her nephew who I discovered in the coast of Kenya.

And I said I loved his aunt. I wanted to write something about her because I thought that her brand of medicine could serve as an example to so many

people in this world. I wanted to find out more about it. However, she always cut me dead about the war.

And he said, well, I didn't know either. My father did, but he never mentioned the word and he died a month before Anne did. And this was a

year after Anne's death.

He said, I did inherit her farm up in Subukia and I opened the safe. And on the top most layer was a file. It said do not open. Would you like to

read it?

I got the file. And the first page in the file was headed CROWCASS - C-R- O-W-C-A-S-S - Central Registry of War Criminals.

AMANPOUR: So, blood run cold? Did you have any indication that this might be what you would find?

HEMINWAY: No. No. Totally not. I thought she had been abused by the Germans. I thought that it was quite the opposite. In fact, I perpetuated

that lie. It turned out to be a lie.

So, the whole list went down and there was Anne Spoerry, the only Swiss on this list. It was printed in 1948 and she was wanted for crimes against

humanity including torture and that's where the entire investigation began.

AMANPOUR: Because she was taken to Ravensbruck, right?


AMANPOUR: The concentration camp in Germany, which was specifically, and the only one, built for women. Female prisoners.

HEMINWAY: That's right.

AMANPOUR: So, what did you find that happened to her there?

HEMINWAY: I found out of a number of things. She was in of Ravensbruck for 14 months. And for maybe ten of those months, she was a normal

prisoner. In fact, sometimes, she did exemplary work, but there was one period of time - and that was between September 1944 until the first of the

year '45 - when the wheels came off.

And it was in Block 10, which was for tuberculars and for lunatics. And it was there that she fell under the spell of the one of the greatest villains

of all times, Carmen Mory.

[14:20:13] AMANPOUR: And Carmen Mory was a sort of in charge of that block.

HEMINWAY: She was a fellow prisoner, but the -

AMANPOUR: But had been co-opted, right, by the Nazis.

HEMINWAY: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: So, what was her influence then on Anne who went over to the dark side?

HEMINWAY: Well, Carmen Mory really informed to the guards of on a regular basis, but I have to say that she was extraordinarily persuasive. She

spoke about six languages and she could name drop like nobody else in the camp could.

She knew Hitler. She knew Goering. She knew everybody. Goebbels. And if she didn't know them, she said she did. And it was very enticing.

Later, after the war, Anne said that she was bewitched and it's a really critical word because it is what happened in those four months. Yes.

AMANPOUR: What was her crime? Anne.

HEMINWAY: Well, her crimes were threefold. For torture, for actual assassination.

AMANPOUR: Assassination, how?

HEMINWAY: Through injections of air and a barbiturate called Evipan.

AMANPOUR: Lethal injections.

HEMINWAY: A lethal injection, yes. Now, in her defense, I have to raise this, there were three trials after the war in which she was accused of all

these terrible crimes and she was acquitted on the basis of lack of evidence.

Basically, the evidence by her defense team brought in all these witnesses from the other blocks who had seen her in -

AMANPOUR: In her good days.

HEMINWAY: Good behavior. Yes, absolutely. But any case, she did claim that it was mercy killing and all that sort of thing.

However, I have to tell you that having spoken to at least three women who were in the same block, Block 10, and they were doctors - at least one was

a doctor, one was a nurse - and there was no such thing as mercy killing. It was not -

AMANPOUR: Not an option.

HEMINWAY: Not an option. No.

AMANPOUR: So, John, here you were discovering after she had died, after your friend had died, somebody who you considered a heroine, this

horrendous path, this unforgivable path, what did it do to you as a person? Did it completely change your view of her?

HEMINWAY: Well, I'm still puzzled by it. And I think I inject my puzzlement in the book. I just can't forgive her. I mean, I simply can't

forgive her for which she did during the war.

On the other hand, I am dazzled by her achievements in Kenya.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you said you've learned that it's relatable to all of us. In other words, perhaps everybody is capable of going from a perfectly

ordinary life, over the edge, into the worst, worst horrors.

But you said you cannot forgive her. So, I want to play for your - or rather, read to you the words of one of those witnesses who you tracked

down, who was in Block 10, Dr. Louise Le Porz.

She told you this in her last interview. In fact, I wonder if I could get you to read it.


AMANPOUR: The yellow at the bottom.


"Sixty years ago, if I had met Claude" - that was the sobriquet that Anne used in Block 10. "Sixty years ago, if I'd met Claude, Anne in the street,

I would have turned my back on her, walked away and never talked. What she did in Africa was admirable. She went there for redemption. Today, if she

were still alive, knowing her suffering, realizing the beauty she made up her career and knowing how much she has done for humanity, my reaction

would be different. I would embrace her."

AMANPOUR: I mean, that really is forgiveness.

HEMINWAY: That is. That is. And if anybody could forgive, if anybody's qualified, it would be Dr. Le Porz.

AMANPOUR: Your book, part of the title is atonement. And I want to play a little bit of an interview, one of the last you did with her and we'll talk

about it.


HEMINWAY: What is it about this part of the world that keeps you going? Here you are, you should effectively be retired right now.

ANNE SPOERRY, FLYING DOCTOR: But why should I be like that? One is only retired when we come to the jump, isn't it? So, you can retire at 20 or

you can retire at 90. It all depends on how you do the job.


[14:25:06] AMANPOUR: You probably didn't understand what she was saying at that point that she could never retire. She had to keep atoning.

HEMINWAY: Absolutely. And she was giving me, I think, in retrospect some kind of code. And I believe that she felt that if she ever stopped

working, she was doomed. She could only live with herself if she kept kind of mathematically adding up all the people she saved versus all the others

who came to terrible ends in Ravensbruck.

I think it was the largest, the longest cover-up in the history of the 20th century. She hid out in full sight. And by doing that, using her name and

becoming more and more famous during her life, she used that as a kind of cover. It was an inspired strategy.

AMANPOUR: Fascinating. John Heminway, thank you so much indeed.

HEMINWAY: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: And you can imagine that is a story made for a movie. The movie rights have been bought. We'll see whether it ever becomes one.

But that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at and you can follow me on

Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.