Indonesian President Joko Widodo has likened global trade wars with the "Infinity War" of the Avengers comic and film franchise at an economic forum in Hanoi.
"What is happening in the economy today is that we are heading to the Infinity War," said Joko at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN.
"Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s have trade wars erupted with the intensity that they have today."
The US, the world's largest economy, is locked in a trade dispute with China, with President Donald Trump threatening increased tariffs on some $US200 billion ($A282 billion) of goods on top of $50 billion imposed this year.
He has previously referred to trade wars as "good" and "easy to win."
Trump, who imposed tariffs on steel against Canada and Mexico earlier this year, has also threatened to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But Joko said trade wars would only hinder global economic progress and could reduce the living standards of billions of people.
"But rest assured, I and my fellow Avengers stand ready to prevent Thanos from wiping out half the world's population," he added, referring to the franchise's villain.
Joko, who was speaking to an assembled group of South-East Asian leaders including Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong and Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, added that he did not intend to single out any particular person.
"Thanos is the mistaken belief that in order to succeed, others must surrender, he is the misperception that the rise of some means the decline of others," he said.
Australian Associated Press