Free­ing up global trade still pro­ceeds

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

MORE STEPS to free up trade glob­ally have been taken since Don­ald Trump was elected than mea­sures to re­strict it, the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) said, de­spite con­cerns his ad­min­is­tra­tion would in­tro­duce a raft of puni­tive rules to pro­tect US jobs. The WTO’s global mon­i­tor­ing re­port, de­bated at a trade pol­icy re­view yes­ter­day, cov­ers Oc­to­ber 2016 to May 2017. “The re­port shows an en­cour­ag­ing de­crease in the rate of new trade-re­stric­tive mea­sures put in place – hit­ting the low­est monthly av­er­age since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis,” WTO direc­torgen­eral Roberto Azevêdo said. The semi-annual re­port, largely co­in­cid­ing with the pe­riod since the elec­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, showed that the 164 WTO mem­bers put 74 new re­stric­tive mea­sures in place, in­clud­ing tar­iffs, cus­toms reg­u­la­tions and quan­ti­ta­tive restric­tions, with an im­pact of $49 bil­lion (R632.5bn) of trade. At the same time, they took 80 steps to help trade, such as cut­ting tar­iffs or sim­pli­fy­ing cus­toms pro­ce­dures, af­fect­ing a much big­ger $183bn of trade. Trader­e­stric­tive steps peaked at 22 per month in 2011, roughly twice the level in the pe­riod of the lat­est re­port. Dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view, the US brought in “Buy Amer­ica” pro­vi­sions.

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