WTO Chief Calls for Major Trade Shakeup


World Trade Organization (WTO) members need to avoid putting up barriers and ‘get trade moving again’ in order to address slow global economic growth, according to the Director-General’s mid-year report on trade-related developments.

The ‘Trade Monitoring Report’ concluded that the ‘best safeguard we have against protectionism [the economic policies that restrict trade] is a strong multilateral trading system’.

Recent reports by PTI found that economic policy makers in South Korea were concerned over rising protectionism globally, with further concerns that Britain’s exit from the EU would have an impact on Korea’s exports.

The report shows that 22 new trade-restrictive measures were initiated by WTO members per month, and 154 in total, during the mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016 review period.

This constitutes a significant increase compared to the previous review period, which recorded an average of 15 measures per month, and is the highest monthly average since 2011.

During the same period, WTO members adopted 19 new measures per month aimed at facilitating trade, a slight increase compared to the previous review period.  

Technical Paper: Global Supply Chain Principles

Roberto Azevêdo, Director General of the WTO, said: “The report shows a worrying rise in the rate of new trade-restrictive measures put in place each month — hitting the highest monthly average since 2011.

“We hope that this will not be an indication of things to come, and clearly action is needed. Out of the more than 2,800 trade-restrictive measures recorded by this exercise since October, 2008, only 25% have been removed.

“In the current environment, a rise in trade restrictions is the last thing the global economy needs. This increase could have a further chilling effect on trade flows, with knock-on effects for economic growth and job creation.”

The WTO will continue to monitor trade policy trends and developments in WTO members’ policies and provide a platform of inclusiveness and transparency for addressing challenges facing the global trading system today.

General economic support measures implemented by WTO Members are on the rise.

A monthly average of 14 such measures were recorded for this review period, thus confirming an upward trend since the end of 2013 and edging closer to the highest monthly average of such measures recorded immediately after the onset of the global financial crisis.

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