A recent World Trade Organization report finds that the imposition of new trade restrictions by G-20 economies has continued to slow this year while new measures to facilitate trade have remained steady.

The WTO’s latest monitoring report finds that G-20 economies applied 16 new trade-restrictive measures from mid-May to mid-October 2017, including new or increased tariffs, export restrictions, and local content measures. The average of three such measures per month was down from the six per month average of the previous review period (mid-October 2016 to mid-May 2017) and the estimated trade coverage of these measures fell from $47 billion to $32 billion. The WTO notes that the decline in trade-restrictive measures may reflect a number of issues: G-20 economies may have opted to implement less traditional and transparent measures to curtail trade, the WTO may have had more difficulties gaining access to the relevant information, and/or G-20 economies implemented fewer such measures.

The initiation of trade remedy investigations represented more than 50 percent of trade measures recorded, and new antidumping investigations accounted for nearly 80 percent of all such initiations. The ratio of initiations (19) to terminations (6) was the highest since 2012, but there were declines in both categories. The trade coverage of initiations was estimated at $29 billion compared to $1 billion for terminations. The main sectors affected by initiations were electrical machinery and parts thereof, organic chemicals, and paper products, while the main sectors where trade remedies were terminated were organic chemicals, iron and steel, and manmade filaments.

G-20 economies also adopted 28 new measures aimed at facilitating trade, such as the elimination or reduction of tariffs and the simplification of customs procedures. The average of six such measures per month was unchanged from the previous review period but the estimated trade coverage of trade-facilitating measures fell sharply from $163 billion to $27 billion. The WTO states that this comparatively low figure may reflect that this review period did not see measures on high-value or highly-traded goods like those recorded in the previous report.

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