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Rise in global pro-trade measures disrupts Trump’s protectionist narrative

Since last October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) registered the lowest monthly average implementation of new trade restrictions since the financial crisis of 2008, providing a surprising counternarrative to President Trump’s agenda, with the president tweeting just this morning that, “The E.U. is very protectionist with the U.S. STOP!”

It turns out the European Union is actually quite disposed to free trade, outlining the framework for an economic mega-bloc with Japan earlier this month, and having established free-trade deals with 38 countries so far.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo used the announcement as an opportunity to urge WTO members to “show continued moderation.”

“I urge members to redouble efforts to refrain from implementing new trade-restrictive measures, and to reverse existing measures,” Azevêdo said.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t areas of concern, namely the U.K. and U.S., both of which seem to be moving in the opposite direction. However, anti-trade measures were offset over the same period by 80 new global measures aimed at facilitating trade, including eliminating or reducing tariffs and simplifying customs procedures.

On the anti-trade side, the report found that 74 new trade-restrictive measures were initiated by member states during the review period.

These anti-trade measures include new or increased tariffs, customs regulations and quantitative restrictions. “This constitutes a significant decrease over the previous review period [mid-October 2015 to mid-October 2016], where an average of 15 measures per month were recorded, and marks the lowest monthly average over the past decade,” the WTO said.


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