Increasing Stockpile of Trade-Restrictive Measures Found By WTO
The increasing stockpile of trade-restrictive measures introduced by WTO members remains a cause for concern, and continued vigilance is required, according to the latest report on trade-related developments presented today by WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo. On the positive side, an increasing number of trade-liberalizing measures, such as tariff-cutting measures, were adopted by WTO members during the period under review, October 2014 to May 2015.
Among the key findings of the report, 104 new trade-restrictive measures were put in place during the reporting period, an average of around 15 new measures per month. This monthly rate has remained stable since 2012, though the overall stock of measures nevertheless continues to rise.
Of the 2,416 measures recorded since October 2008, less than 25 percent have been removed, leaving the stock of restrictive measures still in place at 1,828. This represents an increase of 12 percent compared to the last report.
On the flip side of he coin, WTO members have also adopted more trade-liberalizing measures than trade-restrictive measures since the end of 2013. During the period under review, WTO Members implemented 114 new trade-liberalizing measures, an average of more than 16 measures per month.
There was also “a slight deceleration in the number of anti-dumping investigations initiated,” said Azevêdo. “Similarly, it suggests a decline in the number of countervailing and safeguard investigations that have been initiated.”
According to the WTO’s most recent forecast world merchandise trade growth should increase from 2.8 percent in 2014 to 3.3 percent in 2015 and further to 4.0 percent in 2016, while remaining below historical averages.
“This is due to a mix of factors such as sluggish economic growth, plunging oil prices, exchange rate fluctuations, and geopolitical tensions,” said Azevêdo.
“The broader international economic context supports the need for vigilance and action with regard to trade-restrictive measures,” he added. “The multilateral trading system has proven its usefulness in helping members resist protectionist pressures as a response to the global economic and financial crisis and thereafter.”