26 December 2019

Trade restrictions at historically high levels even as many new measures for facilitating trade implemented: WTO report

WTO Director General on 12th of December presented a report on “Overview of developments in the international trading environment”, with the WTO Members.

The report covers new trade and trade-related measures implemented by WTO Members between 16th October 2018 and 15th October 2019 and states that WTO Members implemented 102 new trade-restrictive measures during the review period, adding to the uncertainty surrounding international trade and the world economy.

The main sectors targeted by the new import restrictions were mineral and fuels oils (HS 27) 17.7%, machinery and mechanical appliances (HS 84) 13%, electrical machinery and parts thereof (HS 85) 11.7%, and precious metals (HS 71) 6%.

According to the WTO Secretariat, estimates of the stockpile of import restrictions implemented since 2009, and still in force, suggest that 7.5% of world imports are affected by import restrictions.

Trade remedy measures continue to be a very important trade policy tool for WTO Members, and account for about 68% of all trade measures captured in this Report. As per the report, though the monthly average of initiations of trade remedy actions by WTO Members remained stable compared to 2018, the second half of the review period saw this figure accelerate, in particular as a result of new anti-dumping investigations.

The main sectors targeted by trade remedy initiations during the review period were on furniture (HS 94) 24.7%, iron and steel (HS 72) 14%, articles of iron and steel (HS 73) 12.1%, and machinery and mechanical appliances (HS 84) 4.9%.

On the positive side, the report states that the WTO Members implemented 120 new measures aimed at facilitating trade, during the review period, including reducing or eliminating tariffs, export duties and import taxes.

The main sectors targeted by the new import facilitating measures were machinery and mechanical appliances (HS 84) 13.4%, electrical machines and equipment (HS 85) 12.1%, copper and articles thereof (HS 74) 7.6%, and motor vehicles (HS 87) 7.4%.