For the first time since the WTO started monitoring the protectionist reaction to the financial crisis in 2008, the scale of trade restrictions is a cause for “serious concern”, Director-General Pascal Lamy told an informal meeting of heads of delegations to the WTO on 7 June 2012. He also reported on latest developments in the Doha Round negotiations. This is what he said:
For the first time since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, this report is alarming. The implementation of new measures restricting or potentially restricting trade has remained unabated over the past seven months, which is aggravated by the slow pace of rollback of existing measures.
The accumulation of these trade restrictions is now a matter of serious concern. Trade coverage of the restrictive measures put in place since October 2008, excluding those that were terminated, is estimated to be almost 3% of world merchandise trade, and almost 4% of G-20 trade. The discrepancy between the commitments taken and the actions on the ground add to credibility concerns.
This situation is adding to the downside risks to the global economy and what is now a volatile global context.
In such a situation, it is important that we collectively and urgently redouble our efforts to strengthen multilateral co-operation to find global solutions to the current economic difficulties and risks and avoid situations that would cause further trade and investment tensions. This will be part of the message that I will sharing with Leaders at the upcoming G-20 Summit on 18 June.