The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has released its annual report, Overview of Developments in the International Trading Environment, that covers the implementation of trade-related measures across the WTO membership in the last 12 months (from mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017). WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo stated that “the Report aims to offer a horizontal, objective and fact-based view of developments across the trade landscape” and is not intended to be indicative of any WTO member state’s compliance with WTO trade measures.
The report shows that 108 new trade-restrictive measures were established during the past year, while WTO member states implemented 128 new measures that facilitate trade. Import-facilitating measures implemented during the annual review period in the context of the expanded Information Technology Agreement amounted to roughly $385 billion. There was also a slight deceleration both in the initiation of trade remedy investigations and in the termination of measures compared to the previous annual overview. Anti-dumping measures continue to make up the bulk (83 percent) of all trade remedy matters. The main sectors affected by trade remedy investigations during the review period were electrical machinery and related parts, iron and steel, articles of iron and steel, and wood and articles of wood.
The report further indicates that international trade flows rebounded strongly during the 2016-2017 review period after a sharp slowdown in the previous reporting period. World merchandise trade volume growth in the first half of 2017 was 4.2 percent, well above the 1.3 percent increase recorded for the whole of 2016. World real gross domestic product growth at market exchange rates is projected to pick up to 2.8 percent in 2017 from 2.3 percent in 2016. The WTO’s latest trade forecast has world merchandise trade volume increasing by 3.6 percent in 2017, with growth placed within an expected range from 3.2 percent to 3.9 percent, which reflects past forecast performance. The pace of expansion should moderate to 3.2 percent in 2018, set within a wider range from 1.4 percent to 4.4 percent, which reflects the greater uncertainty of longer-term forecasts.