WTO Report Finds that G-20 Trade Restrictions Increase as Trade Flows Slow Down

The December 18, 2013 World Trade Organization (WTO) Reports on G20 Trade and Investment Measures finds that, in the last six months, most G-20 countries have put in place new trade restrictions or measures that have the potential to restrict trade. A total of 116 new trade restrictive measures were identified since the last WTO report, up from 109 measures recorded for the previous seven-month period. These were mainly new trade remedy actions, in particular the initiation of anti-dumping investigations, tariff increases and more stringent customs procedures.  New measures affect around 1.1% of G-20 merchandise imports, equivalent to 0.9% of world merchandise imports.

Trade restrictions continue to accumulate over the last few years. All import-restrictive measures adopted since October 2008, excluding those that have been reported as terminated up to mid-November 2013, are estimated to cover around 3.9% of world merchandised imports, and around 5% of G-20 imports.

With respect to trade growth, the Report found that "global economic growth remained slow and uneven, not only in most developed economies but also in major emerging markets. The shortfall in activity has weighed heavily on world trade flows. Trade growth this year is expected to register only a slight increase over 2012, and although prospects are improving the forecast for next year is still below the historical trend. The volume of world merchandise trade is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014."