St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said on Friday rising protectionism in the United States was a worry, but avoided any mention of the current economic or policy outlook in a speech.

The St. Louis Fed said Poole would also not comment on the outlook in the audience question and answer session expected after his remarks, observing an embargo in the wake of a Fed statement on the discount rate.

The Fed cut the discount rate by half a percentage point to 5.75 percent earlier on Friday in response to ongoing turmoil in financial markets sparked by concerns about credit availability. The discount rate is an emergency borrowing facility for banks experiencing liquidity issues.

Poole usually holds an exhaustive question and answer session with his audiences and the media.

Poole said that recent safety worries on products imports from China must not be allowed to create barriers to trade.

My concern is that certain groups will attempt to use concerns over safety and job loss to restrict imports and thereby pursue an agenda of economic isolation in an increasingly globalized world, said Poole, a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting committee this year.

It is easy for retaliatory trade measures to escalate and derail the desirable movement to a more open trading environment. It is in the best interests of all the countries of the world to avoid trade wars, he said.