More than 100 discriminatory anti-trade measures have been
imposed against China since world leaders pledge last
November to fight protectionism, according to independent
research given to Emerging Markets.
More than 55 countries have implemented protectionist
measures against China since the G20 Summit deplored anti-trade
policies, making the country the most frequent target of
In total, countries have announced almost 430 protectionist
measures between last Novembers summit and the end of
September this year. Of the 280 that have been implemented, 240
were either blatantly discriminatory or likely to harm foreign
G20 member countries themselves have imposed 172
discriminatory measures two-thirds of the global total
and more than one every two days, according to Global Trade
Alert, an independent academic and policy research
The latest figures from GTA show that protectionism has
assumed worldwide proportions, affecting 95% of product
categories, 80% of economic sectors, and almost every trading
Simon Evenett, professor of international trade at the
University of St Gallen in Switzerland, who coordinates the GTA
database, said the economic crisis had triggered an
overwhelming tendency to reduce cross-border
Very few tariff lines, economic sectors and trading
partners have not been affected by some form of discriminatory
policy instrument since November 2008, indicating the worldwide
reach of current protectionist dynamics, he said.
He said that, on top of the measures implemented, a further
134 measures announced but not yet enacted were likely to harm
foreign commercial interests.
These measures will start to influence global commerce
even if governments were able to resist announcing any more
initiatives that discriminated against foreign commercial
interests, he said.
Evenett said that the severity and speed of the financial
crisis as opposed to a traditional business cycle
downturn had highlighted weaknesses in the current system of
dispute resolution through the World Trade Organisation.
If binding rules were violated during a systemic
crisis, what value would policy-makers attach to dispute
settlement findings? he said.
Rather than seeking to impose further sets of binding rules,
the solution in future crises may be more informal
understanding between governments to eschew protectionism, he
The G20 leaders reiterated their pledge not to resort to
protectionism despite the evidence that they have already
broken their own pledge. It is imperative that we stand
together to fight against protectionism, they said after
their meeting on September 25.
The International Monetary and Financial Committee, the main
policy-making committee of the IMF, is expected to echo that
call when it releases its communique tomorrow.
The report echoes the findings from the World Trade
Organisations annual report, published over the summer,
that found that use of protectionist measures such as
anti-dumping (AD) duties was on the rise.
In 2008 the number of AD initiations increased by 28%
compared with 2007. Eighteen WTO member countries initiated a
total of 208 new investigations, compared with 163 initiations
reported for 2007. The number of new measures applied also
increased by about the same rate in 2008.