Background

G-20 economies introduced more trade-facilitating than trade-restrictive measures on goods and services in recent months, according to a recent report from the World Trade Organization.

The report finds that during the period mid-October 2022 through mid-May 2023 G-20 economies implemented 77 new trade-facilitating measures with a trade value of $691.9 billion. They also introduced 41 new trade-restrictive measures with a trade value of $88.0 billion.

However, the WTO states that there is “no sign of any meaningful rollback” of the import restrictions G-20 countries have introduced since 2009. As of the end of 2022 11.1 percent of G-20 imports were affected by such restrictions, down from 11.6 percent during the previous period.

In addition, WTO members still had in place 63 export restrictions on food, feed, and fertilizers (up from 52) as well as 21 export restrictions on products essential to combat COVID-19 (down from 27). Of these, 30.2 percent and 57.1 percent, respectively, were maintained by G-20 economies. However, the report states that the pace at which export restrictions are being introduced has slowed and that several have been rolled back.

According to the report, initiations of trade remedy investigations by G-20 economies declined sharply in 2021 and 2022 and terminations of trade remedy actions have increased. During the most recent period initiations increased slightly (9.7 per month) compared to the two previous periods but were still far lower than their peak (28.6 per month) in 2020. The report speculates that one reason for this decline may be that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war “countries appear to have focused on making sure that their territories remained well-stocked and accessible for a wide range of products.”

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