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New Trade Restrictions by G-20 Countries Accelerating, Report Finds

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

G-20 member countries backslid in their efforts to contain protectionist pressures in recent months, a recent World Trade Organization report finds, as more new trade restrictions were recorded and the stockpile of such measures continued to increase. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said this trend “is the last thing the global economy needs today” and “combined with a notable rise in anti-trade rhetoric, could have a further chilling effect on trade flows, with knock-on effects for economic growth and job creation.”

According to the report, G-20 economies applied 145 new trade-restrictive measures from mid-October 2015 through mid-May 2016. This represents an average of nearly 21 per month, up from 17 during the previous reporting period and the highest monthly average since monitoring began in 2009. The main factor behind this increase was a rise in the number of trade remedy investigations, most of which are antidumping actions that are concentrated in sectors such as metals (particularly steel) and chemicals. G-20 members also imposed more distortive measures in the form of government support for sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture and export-specific activities.

On the other hand, the number of new measures aimed at facilitating trade that were adopted by G-20 economies increased to 100, an average of more than 14 per month. This represents an increase from the 12 per month averaged during the previous review period but still remains below the average trend observed since 2010. 

Overall, the report states, the rate at which trade-restrictive measures are being eliminated remains too low to seriously dent the overall stockpile, which grew by 10 percent over the last seven months. Of the 1,583 such measures introduced since 2009 only 387 had been removed as of mid-May 2016, leaving 1,196 in place.

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