WTO Reports Levelling Of New G20 Trade Restrictions, But Stockpile Grows
The World Trade Organization’s fourteenth trade monitoring report on G20 trade measures, issued this week, shows the application of new trade-restrictive measures by G20 economies, a mixed group of the largest developed and emerging countries, remained stable compared to the previous reporting period.
Although the report shows relative restraint by G20 economies in introducing new trade restrictions, the stockpile of measures continues to grow. Because the uncertain global economic outlook continues to have a negative impact on international trade, the report calls on G20 leaders to deliver on their pledge to refrain from implementing new protectionist measures and to roll back existing trade-restrictive measures.
“The WTO’s system of trade rules helped to prevent a major protectionist response in the wake of the financial crisis, but the number of trade-restrictive measures that have been introduced remains a cause for concern,” said WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo. “The G20 should show leadership by eliminating existing trade restrictions.”
In the reporting period between mid-May and mid-October, G20 economies applied 86 new trade-restrictive measures. This equates to an average of just over 17 new measures per month indicating that the rate has remained stable compared to the previous reporting period.
The overall stockpile of restrictive measures introduced by G20 economies nevertheless continues to grow. Of the 1,441 trade-restrictive measures, including trade remedies, introduced by G20 economies since 2008 and recorded by this exercise, only 354 had been removed by mid-October 2015.
The total number of those restrictive measures still in place now stands at 1,087, up by more than five percent compared to the last report. Despite the G‑20 pledge to roll back protectionist measures, more than 75 percent of those implemented since 2008 remain in place.
Although G20 members are eliminating some of their trade-restrictive measures, the rate by which this is done remains insufficient to seriously dent the stockpile.
The report also finds that during the reporting period a total of 62 measures aimed at facilitating trade were taken, a monthly average of 12 measures, the lowest number since November 2013.
The number of trade remedy investigations by G20 economies has fallen significantly during this reporting period. This decline is primarily because of a drop in the number of anti-dumping initiations and confirms a trend identified in the last monitoring report, according to the WTO report.
During this review period global economic growth remained modest, and continued to be unevenly distributed across countries and regions. The downturn in world trade observed at the time of the last monitoring report continued in the second quarter of the year.
The WTO Secretariat recently lowered its forecast for world merchandise trade volume growth in 2015 from 3.3 percent to 2.8 percent, and reduced its estimate for 2016 from 4.0 percent to 3.9 percent.