10 March 2010 | Jake Kanter
The world’s biggest economies have curbed protectionist policies but must go further to open trade barriers, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has said.
Its report on global trade activity said G20 nations had shown restraint in introducing import restrictions over the past six months. This was an improvement on a similar review in September, in which the WTO criticised the countries for not fully enforcing commitments on open and fair trade.
“Most G20 members continue to manage successfully the political process of keeping domestic protectionist pressures under control, despite a difficult environment for some of them where employment levels and new job opportunities are shrinking,” the latest report said.
But the review, produced with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, suggested that problems still exist.
G20 members, it said, continued to introduce restrictive measures such as import tariffs on goods that are already heavily protected, including minerals and metals.
“These sectors are relatively labour-intensive, and as such are particularly vulnerable to pressures resulting from job losses and unemployment,” the report said.
It added that concerns remain over “buy local” policies introduced in government stimulus packages. This was despite the US last month allowing Canadian suppliers to access state and local public works projects undertaken as part of the Recovery Act.