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New Trade Restrictions by G-20 Countries Stable but Stockpile Growing, Report Finds

Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A recent World Trade Organization report finds that the application of new trade restrictions by G-20 member countries remained stable for the period mid-May through mid-October after decelerating slightly over the previous six months. However, the WTO noted that the stockpile of such measures continues to grow and that the uncertain global economic outlook continues to have a negative impact on international trade.

According to the report, the most recent review continues to show a trend of relative restraint among G-20 member countries with respect to the introduction of new trade restrictions. An average of slightly more than 17 new such measures were applied each month during the period reviewed (totaling 86), virtually unchanged from the previous period. More encouragingly, the number of trade remedy investigations by G-20 economies fell significantly, primarily because of a drop in the number of antidumping initiations, which constitute the bulk of trade remedy measures. Various metal products, chemicals, and plastics and rubber account for the largest shares of antidumping and countervailing initiations, and China and South Korea are the countries most affected by initiations.

On the other hand, the number of new measures aimed at facilitating trade that were adopted by G-20 economies fell to 62, an average of 12 per month and considerably lower than the three previous reports. For the first time since mid-May 2014 the monthly average of all new trade‑restrictive measures (other than trade remedies) was higher than the monthly average of all new trade-facilitating measures. The WTO notes that the reasons behind the deceleration in trade-facilitating measures are not immediately obvious.

Overall, the report states, the rate at which trade-restrictive measures are being eliminated is insufficient to seriously dent the overall stockpile, which thus continues to grow. Of the 1,441 such measures introduced since 2008, only 354 had been removed by mid-October 2015. As a result, despite the G-20 pledge to roll back new protectionist measures, the total number of those measures still in place has risen by 5.4 percent since the last report.

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