Trade restrictive measures applied by G20 nations remain high : WTO

The number of trade-restrictive measures applied by Group of 20 (G-20) economies remains high, despite a slight decline against the previous period, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The WTO's sixteenth monitoring report on G-20 trade measures on Thursday showed the nations in the grouping implemented a total of 85 new trade-restrictive measures in the period between mid-May to mid-October 2016.

This is of particular concern given the continuing global economic uncertainty and the WTO's recent downward revision of its trade forecasts. The steady accumulation of trade-restrictive measures since the financial crisis has gradually increased the share of global trade affected by such restrictions.

The G-20 is an international forum of the largest global economies including India, United States, United Kingdom, China and Japan, among others.

According to the latest WTO data, the share of world imports covered by import-restrictive measures implemented since October 2008 and still in place is 5% and the share of G-20 imports covered is 6.5%.

This is an average of 17 new measures per month, down from 21 per month imposed in the corresponding period of last year. This slight decline represents a return to recent trend levels after a peak in the first half of 2016. The number of new measures remains high and the rollback of existing trade-restrictive measures continues to be slow, the WTO said.

"These concerns demand a concerted response from governments and the international community. One step will be for G-20 members to deliver on their commitment to refrain from imposing new trade-restrictive measures and roll back existing ones," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said.

"It is clear that the financial crisis has had a long tail and that the world economy remains in a precarious state. Many people are struggling with unemployment or low paying jobs and are concerned about broader changes in the economy," he added.

The initiation of trade remedy investigations remained the most frequently applied measure by far, representing 72% of trade-restrictive measures and above the average share observed since 2009. The G-20 economies initiated far more trade remedy actions, numbering 61, than were terminated — 36 during the period under scanner. Metal products, chemicals, plastics and rubber account for the largest shares of anti-dumping and countervailing initiations during the said period.

On the positive side, the new trade-facilitating measures include those implemented in the context of the newly expanded Information Technology Agreement and which have very broad trade coverage, the WTO said.

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