G20 states are continuing to carry out protectionist policies in contrast to repeated pledges to keep markets open, and developing countries have been among the main victims, a study by independent economists said.
The report by Global Trade Alert (GTA) finds that G20 countries have implemented 111 measures that harm foreign commercial interests since their last summit in June this year.
The total number of harmful measures implemented by G20 governments during the crisis and subsequent recovery has crossed 500 to reach 511, it said in the report, brought out in advance of this week’s G20 summit in Seoul.
“The crossing of this dubious threshold casts further doubt on the quality of G20 leadership on protectionism,” Simon Evenett, an economics professor at St. Gallen University in Switzerland and one of the founders of GTA, said in a statement.
The report follows a warning last week by the World Trade Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development that the global economy is threatened by increasing protectionism, caused in part by tension over exchange rates.
GTA, a website on which economists monitor and rate trade measures, has been consistently more pessimistic about protectionism than the WTO.
In its latest report, GTA takes a more upbeat view, saying protectionist tensions have been contained—for now—and that currency tensions had not led to protectionism across the board, but says governments continue to close their markets to foreign competition.
Policy-makers in rich and emerging economies generally talk about the need to help developing countries, but GTA said that world-wide, since the crisis began, 141 government measures have hurt the traders and migrant workers of the 50 poorest Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Of these, G20 countries were responsible for 101 of the harmful measures, with developing country members of the G20 most active, it said, noting that India had hit LDC commercial interests 21 times, more than other G20 members.
GTA urged the G20 to ensure that any initiative on trade and development revised government measures so that they do not harm the poorest countries.
“Otherwise the Seoul G20 summit risks introducing yet more incoherence into trade and development policy—reviving long-standing concerns that what governments give with one hand (aid and other support) they take away with the other (protectionism),” Evenett said. (Reuters)