WTO says trade policy restraint prevented a destructive acceleration of protectionism

The past several months saw international cooperation and coordination increase among nations

According to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) latest Trade Monitoring Report, trade policy restraint by G20 economies, as well as WTO members more broadly, prevented a destructive acceleration of protectionist trade measures that would have further hurt the world economy.

The Report comes as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The mid-October 2020 to mid-May 2021 review period covered in this report provides important insight into a number of areas as countries begin addressing the challenges of a post-pandemic economic recovery.

In particular, the past several months saw international cooperation and coordination among nations and intergovernmental organizations increase and intensify.

The report indicates that despite the value of global merchandise trade shrinking by more than 8% in 2020, trade in medical supplies increased by 16%, and personal protective equipment (PPE) by 50%.

The report also notes that the multilateral trading system has kept trade flowing, with the WTO playing a central role in ensuring that supply chains are kept open and restrictive trade policies are avoided.

In terms of numbers, G20 economies implemented 140 trade and trade-related measures in the area of goods since the outbreak of the pandemic – 101 (72%) of a trade-facilitating nature and 39 (28%) of a trade-restrictive nature. The reduction or elimination of import tariffs and import taxes made up 60% of trade-facilitating measures taken, and certain G20 economies reduced their tariffs on a variety of goods such as PPE, sanitizers, disinfectants, medical equipment and medicine/drugs.

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