WTO: G20 Trade Restrictions remain high, despite slowdown in new measures

Alicia Nicholls

Despite a slowdown in new measures, existing trade restrictions among the G20 countries remain high. This is according to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) latest Report on G2o Trade Measures (mid-May 2016 to mid-October 2016) released November 10, 2016.

Some of the key findings of the sixteenth edition of this Report are as follows:

  • A total of 85 new trade-restrictive measures were implemented by G20 economies during the review period (mid-May to mid-October 2016).
  • This is an average of 17 new measures per month
  • The good news is that this is a decrease  from the 21 per month imposed in the previous reporting period (mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016)but the WTO also cautioned that this is actually a return to the trend level for new trade-restrictive measures since 2009.
  • Of the 1,671 trade-restrictive measures (including trade remedies) recorded for G20 economies since 2008, only 408 had been removed by mid-October 2016.

As noted by the WTO, these  findings are of concern given the slowdown in global trade flows and the continuing economic uncertainty in the world economy.

The WTO in its recent downward revision of its trade forecasts is now predicting 1.7% growth in world merchandise trade volumes in 2016 (down from its previous forecast of 2.8%), the slowest rate of growth since 2009, and lower than global GDP forecasts of 2.2%.

I would also add that President-elect Trump’s tariff-happy rhetoric does not bode well for the future reduction of trade restrictive barriers if he does go through with his promises.

The WTO therefore noted that:

“It is imperative that G20 economies — collectively and individually — re-double their efforts to deliver on their commitment to refrain from taking new protectionist measures and roll back existing ones.”

The full report 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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