WTO DG Reports no acceleration in trade restrictions but removal is slow

Alicia Nicholls

The World Trade Organisation Director General’s report on trade-related development entitled “Overview of Developments in the International Trading Environment” was released yesterday, just days before WTO trade ministers meet in Nairobi, Kenya for the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference.

It comes against the backdrop of an uneven and uncertain global economic recovery and of the WTO’s downgrade in September this year of its forecast for world merchandise trade volume growth to 2.8% for 2015 (down from 3.3% in the April forecast), and for 2016 to 3.9% (down from 4% in the April forecast). The review period for the current report is October 2014-October  2015.

Some key findings from the report:

  • The 222 new trade-facilitating measures which members implemented over the period, an average of nearly 19 measures per month, was the second-highest since 2008 when monitoring began.
  • There has been no acceleration in the introduction of trade restrictive measures from 2014. However, as only 25% of the restrictive measures recorded since October 2008 have been eliminated,the stockpile of restrictions as of October 2015 increased by 17% from October 2014.
  • Concern remains about the unsatisfactory compliance by members in regards to the WTO’s various transparency mechanisms.
  • WTO members continue to accelerate their pace of negotiating regional trade agreements. Eleven RTAs were notified to the WTO during the review period, compared to 9 during the last period.

The full report and the WTO Deputy Director General’s statement to the Trade Policy Review Body may be accessed here.

Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.

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