WTO: trade-restrictive measures up in G20 economies

21 de junho de 2016

São Paulo – The World Trade Organization (WTO) released this Tuesday (21) its fifteenth trade monitoring report on the G20, the bloc formed by the world’s 20 largest economies, among them Brazil and Saudi Arabia. The report shows that in the time period reviewed, from mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016, the monthly average of restrictive measures to international trade applied by the group’s countries was the highest since the WTO started to monitor these measures in 2009.

According to the survey, the bloc’s nations implemented 145 new trade-restrictive measures in the period, 21 per month on average. In the previous period, the monthly average was 17 new measures. On the other hand, 100 measures aimed at facilitating trade were approved from October 2015 to May 2016, or 14 per month.

The WTO adds that since 2009, a total of 1,583 trade-restrictive measures were approved, and only a quarter of them have been removed. These actions, according to the organization, impact 6% of all G20 imports and 5% of global imports.

A rise in trade restrictions is the last thing the global economy needs today, with [global] GDP growth sluggish and 2016 expected to be the fifth year in a row that trade has expanded by less than 3%”, said WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo, according to an organization’s statement.

According to the report, the rise in trade-restrictive measures was driven mainly as the result of an increase in the number of trade remedy investigations by G20 economies, with the anti-dumping actions accounting for the majority of the restrictions implemented. The most impacted sectors were metals, specially steel, and chemicals.

The WTO warns that the bloc’s nations expanded government support for sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture and export-specific activities. In the organization’s assessment, these subsidies cause distortions in global trade.

“If we are serious about addressing slow economic growth then we need to get trade moving again, not put up barriers between economies”, said Azevêdo. “The G20 economies have made a commitment to lead in this endeavor as the world’s largest traders. I urge them to act on this commitment”, he added.

Beside Brazil and Saudi Arabia, the bloc includes Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and European Union.

According to the WTO, global trade increased 2.8% last year and is set to post the same growth number in 2016.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani