While there has been much focus on NAFTA, US-China, and UK-EU trade relations, a new report highlights the extent to which global trade is becoming increasingly restrictive.
Across the G20 nations, the amount of trade covered by import-restrictive measures hit a new high between mid-May and October 2018.
The World Trade Organization’s monitoring report released Thursday estimates that U$481 billion in trade covered by new measures was 6 times higher than in the previous reporting period.
The level of measures to facilitate import trade grew at less than half that of the restrictions (estimated $216 billion).
There were 40 new restrictive measures imposed by G20 economies during the reporting period, including tariffs, import bans, and export duties. There were 33 new facilitation measures.
WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo says that the findings are a serious concern and immediate action is required to ease the situation.
“Further escalation remains a real threat. If we continue along the current course, the economic risks will increase, with potential effects for growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world. The WTO is doing all it can to support efforts to de-escalate the situation, but finding solutions will require political will and it will require leadership from the G20.”
The main sectors affected by trade remedy initiations during the review period were iron and steel and products of iron and steel followed by furniture, bedding, mattresses and electrical machinery and parts thereof.