The Director-General’s annual overview of trade-related developments discussed on 12 December at a meeting of the Trade Policy Review Body shows that trade restrictions by WTO members continue at historically high levels. Between mid-October 2018 and mid-October 2019, the trade coverage of import-restrictive measures implemented by members was estimated at USD 747 billion. This is the highest trade coverage recorded since October 2012 and represents an increase of 27% compared to the figure recorded in the previous annual overview (USD 588 billion). The report notes that new trade restrictions and increasing trade tensions added to the uncertainty surrounding international trade and the world economy.
Roberto Azevedo, Director-General of WTO: “The report’s findings should be of serious concern for WTO members and the broader international community. Historically high levels of trade-restrictive measures are hurting growth, job creation and purchasing power around the world. Strong collective leadership from the membership would make an important contribution to increasing certainty, encouraging investment and bolstering trade and economic growth. Without such action, however, unfavourable trends could become worse.”
The report shows that 102 new trade-restrictive measures were put in place by members during the review period, including tariff increases, quantitative restrictions, stricter customs procedures, and imposition of import taxes and export duties. The main sectors targeted by the new import restrictions were mineral and fuel oils (17.7%), machinery and mechanical appliances (13%), electrical machinery and parts thereof (11.7%) and precious metals (6%).