Trade restrictive measures continued to weigh on trade in 2016

A recent report from the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows the organization’s members introduced 182 new trade-restrictive measures between mid-October 2015 and mid-October 2016, or an average of over 15 measures per month.

This represents a decline compared to the average 20 measures per month introduced during 2015, but the WTO’s Director-General Roberto Azevêdo says the number of new trade-restrictive measures being introduced remains worryingly high given continuing global economic uncertainty and the WTO’s downward revision of its trade forecasts.

The WTO is projecting a 1.7% increase in world merchandise trade volume in 2016, down from its earlier forecast of 2.8%. If this revised forecast is realized, this would mark the slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009.

DG Azevêdo said: “Trade restrictive measures can have a chilling effect on trade flows, with knock-on effects for economic growth and job creation. In the context of a challenging economic scenario, it is more important than ever that WTO members adopt policies which will support trade and ensure that its benefits reach as many people as possible.”

The report notes that of the 2,978 trade-restrictive measures put in place by WTO members since 2008, only 740 had been removed by mid-October 2016. The overall stock of measures has increased by almost 17% compared to the previous annual overview, with the total number of restrictive measures still in place now standing at 2,238.

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