WTO: 2016 NEWS ITEMS

REPORTS ON RECENT TRADE DEVELOPMENTS


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The report, which was discussed at a 25 July meeting of the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB), shows that 22 new trade-restrictive measures were initiated by WTO members per month 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.  The stockpile of trade-restrictive measures in place grew by 11 per cent during the review period.

“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,” Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said. “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 per cent 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.

 

KEY FINDINGS

  • Between mid-October 2015 and mid-May 2016 ("review period"), WTO Members applied 154 new trade-restrictive measures, amounting to 22 new measures per month.
  • This constitutes a significant increase compared to the previous review period, which recorded an average of 15 measures per month. It is the highest monthly average registered since 2011, when WTO recorded a peak in the monthly average of new trade‑restrictive measures.
  • A total of 132 measures aimed at facilitating trade were taken during the review period, amounting to 19 measures per month. Although this shows a slight increase compared to the previous review period, the figure is lower than the recorded monthly average of trade‑restrictive measures.
  • WTO Members initiated a higher number of trade remedy investigations per month during this review period compared to the previous period. The overwhelming majority of these were anti-dumping measures.
  • The overall stockpile of restrictive measures introduced by WTO Members grew by 11% during the review period. Of the 2,835 trade-restrictive measures, including trade remedies, recorded for WTO Members since 2008 by this exercise, only 708, or 25%, had been removed by mid-May 2016. The rate by which WTO Members have been eliminating trade restrictions remains too low to make a dent in the stockpile. The total number of restrictive measures still in place today stands at 2,127.
  • 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.
  • World trade remained volatile in 2015 as diverging outlooks for developed and developing economies unsettled global financial markets and prompted sharp movements in commodity prices and exchange rates. The volume of world merchandise trade grew 2.8% last year as trade fell sharply in the first half of the year before recovering in the second half. 
  • World trade prospects for 2016 and beyond remain uncertain. The most recent WTO trade forecast of 7 April 2016 predicted merchandise trade volume growth of 2.8% in 2016, at a rate unchanged from 2015. Despite a number of positive developments, the global economic environment remains challenging and continued vigilance is required.
  • In the midst of this uncertainty, WTO Members must individually and collectively resist protectionist pressures. The best safeguard we have against protectionism is a strong multilateral trading system.

Trade-restrictive measures, excluding trade remedies
(average per month)

Note: Values are rounded.
Source: WTO Secretariat.

Restrictive measures, mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016

Source: WTO Secretariat.

Trade-facilitating measures, excluding trade remedies
(average per month)

Note: Values are rounded.
Source: WTO Secretariat.

Facilitating measures, mid-October 2015 to mid-May 2016

Source: WTO Secretariat.

Stockpile of trade-restrictive measures

Note: Stockpile of restrictive measures includes measures listed in Annex 3 and initiations of trade remedy actions.
Source: WTO Secretariat.

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