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WTO members show restraint in trade restrictions despite ongoing economic uncertainties

WTO members introduced fewer trade-restrictive measures from mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017 compared to the previous year, according to the Director-General’s annual overview report on trade-related developments presented to members on 4 December. WTO members continued to implement more trade-facilitating than trade-restrictive measures.

  • WTO members applied 108 new trade-restrictive measures during the review period from mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017, including new or increased tariffs, customs procedures, quantitative restrictions and local content measures. This equates to an average of nine measures per month compared to fifteen in the previous period.
  • WTO members also implemented 128 measures aimed at facilitating trade, including eliminated or reduced tariffs and simplified customs procedures. At almost 11 trade-facilitating measures per month, this remains significantly lower than the monthly average of 18 recorded in the previous annual overview report. WTO members continue to implement more trade-facilitating than trade-restrictive measures, a trend observed over the past four years.
  • It is noteworthy that the estimated trade coverage of import-facilitating measures (US$ 169 billion) is more than two times larger than that of import-restricting measures (US$ 79 billion). In addition, the import-facilitating measures implemented during the review period in the context of the ITA Expansion Agreement are estimated at around US$ 385 billion or 2.4% of the value of world merchandise imports.
  • On trade remedy measures, the review period saw a slight deceleration both in initiations of investigations and in terminations of measures, compared to the previous annual overview and to the whole of 2016. Anti-dumping measures continue to make up the bulk of all trade remedy initiations.
  • Transparency and predictability in trade policy remains vital for all actors in the global economy. Collectively, WTO members must show leadership in reiterating their commitment to open and mutually beneficial trade as a key driver of economic growth and a major engine for prosperity. In preparing for the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, members must continue to work together to achieve a successful meeting in Buenos Aires in December.