WTO says export restrictions can further contribute to worsened global economic outlook

GLOBAL – Speaking at her annual World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Monitoring Report presentation at a meeting of the Trade Policy Review Body, the Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on WTO members to refrain from adopting new trade-restrictive measures.

The WTO Director-General’s annual overview of developments in the international trading environment has shown that trade restrictions are increasing, particularly on food, feed, and fertilizers, while the stockpile of import restrictions in force also continues to grow.

According to the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization as Director-General, countries should not put in place trade restrictions, particularly for export that can further contribute to a worsening of the global economic outlook.

She urged the member states to cooperate to keep markets open and predictable to allow goods to move around the world to where they are needed.

Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “Members have increasingly implemented new trade restrictions, in particular on the export side, first in the context of the pandemic and more recently in the context of the war in Ukraine and the food security crisis. Although some of these export restrictions have been lifted, many others persist.”

“Out of the 78 export restrictive measures on food, feed, and fertilizers introduced since the start of the war in late February, 57 are still in place, covering roughly US$56.6 billion of trade. These numbers have increased since mid-October, which should be a cause for concern.”

During the G20 Leaders at their summit in Indonesia a few weeks ago, she said lifting those export restrictions is fundamental to reducing price spikes and volatility and to allowing goods to flow seamlessly to where they are required.

 During the review period for the report, from mid-October 2021 to mid-October 2022, WTO members introduced more trade-facilitating (376) than trade-restrictive (214) measures on goods (unrelated to the pandemic), with the average number of trade-facilitating measures per month at its highest since 2012.

Most of the facilitations were to address the import side, while most of the restrictions were on the export side.

It is the first time since the beginning of the monitoring exercise in 2009 the number of export restrictions outpaced that of import restrictions.

As per links from the global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations, the climb in export restrictions could be because initiations of trade remedy investigations declined sharply during the review period (10.9 initiations per month, the lowest since 2012) after reaching its highest peak in 2020 (36.1 initiations per month).

According to the WTO, the trade coverage of the trade-facilitating measures was estimated at US$1,160.5 billion, and that of the trade-restrictive measures at US$278.0 billion, noting the stockpile of import restrictions in force also continued to grow.

However, the organization noted that by mid-October 2022, over nine percent of global imports continue to be affected by import restrictions implemented since 2009, which are still in force.

WTO underscored that Anti-dumping continues to be the most frequent trade remedy action in terms of initiations and terminations.

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