G-20 economies have continued to roll back COVID-19-related trade restrictions and show restraint in imposing new ones, according to a recent report from the World Trade Organization. However, the value of trade covered by such restrictions is nearly double that of trade-facilitating measures.
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According to the report, during the period mid-May to mid-October 2021 G-20 economies implemented 25 new trade-facilitating measures with a trade value of $36 billion and 14 new trade-restrictive measures with a trade value of $4.2 billion. Monthly averages for the number of new measures were near the lowest seen since 2012, while the trade value of those measures declined precipitously from the previous period.
COVID-related trade measures imposed since January 2020 have included 105 of a trade-facilitating nature (with about $211.4 billion in trade coverage) and 39 of a trade-restrictive nature (with about $137.4 billion in trade coverage). Import tariff and tax reductions or eliminations (including on goods associated with the pandemic such as personal protective equipment, sanitizers, disinfectants, and medical equipment) accounted for about 60 percent of trade-facilitating measures, but about 19 percent of all such measures have been rolled back. Export restrictions accounted for 95 percent of the restrictive measures, but more than half had been phased out by mid-October.
Estimates show that of those measures still in force, those facilitating trade have a trade coverage of $48.2 billion while those restricting trade have a trade coverage of $88.4 billion, suggesting that the rollback of the former has been swifter than that of the latter. The WTO notes that many programs have been phased out or adjusted to take into account new circumstances and prepare for the post-pandemic recovery.
The report adds that during the review period initiations of trade remedy investigations (primarily antidumping investigations) saw another sharp decline. The monthly average of 12 was the lowest level on record (since 2012) and followed the previous low of 15 during the last period. In addition, the trade coverage of initiations was estimated at $11.0 billion, down from $15.9 billion. Similarly, the monthly average of trade remedy terminations (5.4) was by far the lowest on record and the trade coverage of such measures plummeted from $14.2 billion to $4.5 billion.
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