New Trade Restrictions by G-20 Countries Slowing but Vigilance Needed, Report Finds
A recent World Trade Organization report finds that the application of new trade restrictions by G-20 member countries decelerated slightly between October 2014 and May 2015. However, the WTO cautioned that this trend may not continue and therefore called on G-20 countries to “show continued vigilance and reinforced determination toward eliminating existing trade restrictions.”
According to the report, an average of 17.0 new trade restrictive measures were applied each month during the period reviewed (totaling 119), down from 17.3 during the previous period. The report notes that this decline is due in part to a slight drop in the number of trade remedy investigations. At the same time, G-20 members adopted 112 new measures aimed at facilitating trade, an average of 16 per month.
The longer-term trend remains one of concern, the report states, with the overall stock of trade-restrictive measures introduced by G-20 economies continuing to rise. Of the 1,360 restrictions recorded since 2008, less than a quarter have been eliminated, leaving the total number of such measures still in place at 1,031. Therefore, despite the G-20 pledge to roll back any new protectionist measures, the stock of these measures has risen by more than seven percent since the last report. Nevertheless, the overall response to the 2008 crisis has been more muted than expected when compared with previous crises, leading the WTO to conclude that the multilateral trading system has proved an effective backstop against protectionism.