Trade restrictions in various countries have increased since mid-October, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala relayed her concern to Geneva on Tuesday.
When the Russian offensive began last February, more than 70 food and fertilizer restrictions were launched. Nearly 60 are still in place. They constitute a volume of 56.6 billion dollars (more than 53 billion francs).
From mid-October 2021 to mid-October last, more than 370 new trade facilitations were launched. By month, the figure is the largest in a decade, as the total far exceeds the more than 210 new restrictions, albeit without those related to the pandemic.
While trade facilitations have mainly focused on imports, restrictions have affected exports. For the first time since 2009, they even exceeded the relaxations for exports. But import restrictions are also of concern to the WTO. About 9% of world imports are affected by coercive measures launched in 2009, the organization deplores.
Request to member countries
In total, the facilitations bring together a volume of 1160 billion dollars, against only around 279 billion for the restrictions. “A lifting of these trade restrictions is fundamental to reducing price increases and volatility,” said the managing director.
In contrast, measures related to technology trade against the pandemic have increased less rapidly. Since October 2021, 45 have been launched on goods. But two months ago, 79% of all trade facilitations and restrictions established since 2020 were eliminated. Out of nearly 450, most of which were facilitations, only a little more than 40 of them were still in place in mid-October, but for a significant budget of more than 134 billion dollars.
Two months ago, the WTO had lowered the world trade growth forecast for this year to 1%, against 3.4% a few months earlier. “As we seek to improve access to vaccines, medicines, tests, I urgently ask members to put an end to the restrictions that remain,” said the chief executive.