World Trade Organisation warns of rising protectionism ahead of G20 summit


World Trade Organisation warns of rising protectionism ahead of G20 summit

Nick Beams

24 November 2018

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has issued a warning about the rise of protectionism in the lead-up to the summit meeting of the G20 group of countries in Buenos Aries at the end of next week.

According to the WTO, from mid-May to mid-October an additional $481 billion worth of trade was affected by new restrictive measures imposed by member countries. This was six times larger than in the previous reporting period and the largest since the WTO began collecting such data in 2012.

The WTO said 40 new trade restrictions were applied in G20 economies alone during the five-month period, including tariff increases, import bans and export duties.

Commenting on the report, WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said its findings “should be of serious concern for G20 governments and the whole international community.” He added: “Further escalation remains a real threat. If we continue along the current course, the economic risks will increase, with potential effects for growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world.”

Azevedo said the WTO was doing all it could to “de-escalate” the situation but “finding solutions will require political will and it will require leadership from the G20.”

While the WTO did not point the finger of blame for the rise in protectionist measures, the chief factor is the aggressive policies instigated by the United States. Three quarters of the latest restrictions were tariff hikes, many in retaliation against the steel and aluminium tariff increases the Trump administration imposed in March.

Besides threatening further measures against China, including lifting its 10 percent tariff on $200 worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent…

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