Rising Protectionism Threatens World Trade

In its latest report dated 6 June 2012 regarding restrictions on world trade, the Directorate General for Trade of the European Union noted that 123 new trade restrictions were introduced in the past eight months alone, increasing the number of recorded trade restrictions worldwide to 534. The protectionism trend therefore remains unbroken. Even the agreement reached between the G20 – the world's leading economically advanced nations – at their Washington summit in 2008 and regularly affirmed since then, calling for an end to new measures restricting trade and the elimination of existing ones, failed to stop this development.

EU Commissioner of Trade Karel De Gucht presented the report, approved by the 27 EU member states, in Brussels on 6 June 2012: "I am very concerned about the massive increase in measures that restrict trade, especially over the last few months. We should remember that protectionism benefits no one, and that the G20 states made a commitment to put an end to such practices. The wrong signals are being sent to world trade partners, both investors and economic operators, who need a predictable business environment."

Examples of practices being applied that restrict trade are listed in the report: import and export restrictions in the form of high import or export duties or lower export quotas, which take effect at the external borders of a country, so-called technical trade restrictions in the form of conformity assessments and certification requirements that are applied more strictly to imported goods or go beyond what is common or prescribed at the international level, or restrictions in the service and investment segments which frequently discriminate against foreign service providers or investors.

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