Trade-restrictive measures continue at historically high level

Trade flows hit by new restrictions implemented by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) continued at a historically high level between mid-October 2018 and mid-May 2019, according to the latest mid-year report on trade-related developments from the WTO’s Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

“The overall picture is concerning. The report provides evidence that trade tensions continue to dominate the global trade environment,” said Mr. Azevêdo in presenting the report, where he urged WTO members to work together to help scale back the situation.

The report shows that WTO members applied 38 new trade-restrictive measures during the review period mainly through tariff increases, import bans, special safeguards, import taxes and export duties.

The trade coverage of import-restrictive measures implemented between mid-October 2018 and mid-May 2019 is estimated at USD 339.5 billion – 44% above the average since October 2012 when the report started including trade coverage figures.

The report also notes that several significant trade-restrictive measures either will be implemented shortly after the period covered or remain under consultation for potential later implementation, suggesting that the precarious situation in global trade will persist.

At this critical juncture, the report calls on WTO members to follow through on their commitment to trade and to the rules-based international trading system and work together urgently to ease trade tensions and to improve and strengthen the WTO.

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