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Growth in New Trade Restrictions by G-20 Countries Slows, Report Finds

Monday, November 14, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

A recent World Trade Organization report finds that the number of trade-restrictive measures applied by G-20 economies remains high despite a noticeable decline during the most recent reporting period. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said the continued introduction of such measures is “a real and persistent concern” and that “tangible evidence of G-20 progress in eliminating existing measures remains elusive.”

According to the report, G-20 economies applied 85 new trade-restrictive measures from mid-May to mid-October (an average of 17 per month), down from 145 during the period from mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016 (an average of 21 per month) and a return to the trend level since 2009. The initiation of trade remedy investigations remained the most frequently applied measure at 72 percent of the total, and G-20 economies initiated far more trade remedy actions (61) than were terminated (36). Metal products (in particular steel), chemicals, and plastics and rubber accounted for the largest shares of antidumping and countervailing initiations.

G-20 economies also adopted 66 new measures aimed at facilitating trade, down from 100 during the previous period. The monthly average of 13 was down slightly and remained below the 2009-2015 average trend. The most recent such measures included the first implemented in the context of the expanded Information Technology Agreement.

Overall, the report states, the number of new trade-restrictive measures remains high and the rollback of existing measures continues to be slow. Of the 1,671 such measures introduced since 2008 only 408 had been removed as of mid-October, leaving 1,263 in place, up 5.6 percent from the last report.

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