Trade restrictive measures escalate – WTO report

There was a significant increase in the imposition of trade restrictive measures by World Trade Organisation members between October 2017 and 2018, according to the WTO director-general’s annual overview just released.

While members continued to implement trade-facilitating measures, the trade coverage of import-restrictive measures was more than seven times larger than that recorded in the previous annual overview. The report provides the first WTO-wide factual insight into trade restrictive measures in the context of current trade tensions and calls on WTO members to use all means at their disposal to de-escalate the situation.

“This proliferation of trade restrictive measures and the uncertainty created by such actions could place economic recovery in jeopardy,” said director-general Roberto Azevêdo.

“Further escalation would carry potentially large risks for global trade, with knock-on effects for economic growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world. I urge WTO members to use all means at their disposal to de-escalate the situation.”

The report shows that 137 new trade-restrictive measures were put in place by members during the review period, including tariff increases, quantitative restrictions, import taxes and export duties. This equates to an average of 11 new measures per month, which is higher than the average of nine recorded in the previous annual overview (mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017).

During the same period, WTO members implemented 162 measures aimed at facilitating trade, including eliminating or reducing tariffs and simplified customs procedures for imports and exports. At close to 14 trade-facilitating measures per month, this is an increase compared to the average of 11 measures in the previous annual overview.

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