Report highlights damaging consequences of trade tariffs

A recent report launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) provides global policymakers with an evidence-based overview of the far-reaching economic and social consequences of trade tariffs.

While recognising that trade liberalisation has resulted in some negative consequences, the report – prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit – stresses that tariffs are not the answer.

“Almost all tariffs benefit a narrow group at the expense of a broad one, have unanticipated effects beyond their original focus areas, and take more time to repeal than to implement (perpetuating their negative effects),” the report states.

ICC Secretary General John WH Denton AO added: “This report clearly highlights the counterproductive nature of addressing social and economic problems through tariff increases as well as the pressing need for movement on reforming trade governance. To enable this, business needs to prepare the ground to allow policymakers to move without risk. ICC is helping to achieve that by channelling the voice of business and others into a more actionable debate on multilateral trade reform.”

Participating in the launch event, Director General of the World Trade Organisation Roberto Azevedo said: “The private sector generates many of the new ideas on trade reforms that governments then take forward. It is important that the private sector understands this role – it is more important than ever today.”

“To tackle China’s unfair treatment of foreign investment, policymakers should use multilateral forums and leverage China’s clear desire to retain a rules-based trading system,” according the ICC.

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