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WTO sees slowdown in G20 trade curbs

Issac John /Dubai
issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com Filed on November 19, 2020
The WTO''s latest Trade Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures noted that there has been a slowdown in the number and coverage of trade-restrictive and trade-facilitating measures on goods implemented by G20 countries between mid-May and mid-October 2020. — Reuters

Almost three out of every ten Covid-19 restrictive measures on goods taken by G20 economies had been repealed by mid-October.

Global merchandise exports in nominal dollar terms fell 21 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year although world trade had already been slowing before the pandemic, World Trade Organisation said on Thursday.

The WTO''s latest Trade Monitoring Report on G20 trade measures noted that there has been a slowdown in the number and coverage of trade-restrictive and trade-facilitating measures on goods implemented by G20 countries between mid-May and mid-October 2020, “primarily as a result of the sharp decline in overall global trade since the Covid-19 outbreak.”

The trade coverage of ‘regular’ import-facilitating and import-restrictive measures introduced during the five-month period, that is those unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic, dropped to $36.8 billion (down from $735.9 billion in the previous period) and $ 42.9 billion (down from $417.5 billion) respectively, the report said.

“This was a function of the sharp decline in overall global trade flows, the diversion of governments’ attention towards pandemic response, and relative stasis in major bilateral trade tensions that had elevated both sets of figures in earlier reporting periods as well as a general commitment to keep trade flowing,” the report said.

However, trade measures directly tied to the pandemic covered a significant amount of global trade. Covid-19 related trade-facilitating measures on goods implemented since January covered trade worth an estimated $155 billion, while pandemic-related trade-restrictive measures most of which were export controls covered trade worth $111 billion. “Of the 133 Covid-19 trade and trade-related measures recorded for G20 economies since the outbreak of the pandemic, 63 per cent were of a trade-facilitating nature and 37 per cent were trade restrictive,” said the report.

The WTO noted that almost three out of every ten Covid-19 restrictive measures on goods taken by G20 economies had been repealed by mid-October. “Most of them were export restrictions. In the services sectors heavily impacted by the pandemic, most of the 68 Covid-19 related measures adopted by G20 economies appeared to be trade facilitating.”

WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah said that while the number of new trade-restricting measures was modest, the fact remains that restrictions that have accumulated since 2009 are weighing on over a 10th of G20 imports.

"Now, more than ever, G20 governments must continue to work together," Agah said.

G20 members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US. — issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

author

Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.





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