“The release of the WTO’s mid-year Trade Policy Review has confirmed business suspicions that the international trading environment has never been tougher,” Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox said today.
“The report shows that in the six months to May this year new import-restricting trade measures have increased by USD 339.5 billion, adding to the record USD 588.3 billion reported in the previous six months.
“What is most disappointing is that the overwhelming share of these new restrictive trade measures have been implemented by G20 economies who have clearly failed the free trade test. This is despite the fact that G20 Leaders released a statement in Osaka in June including the desire to ‘realize a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open’.
“Seven of Australia’s top ten trade partners are G20 members.
“While 1 in 5 jobs in Australia rely on trade, about half of Australia’s exporters only have 3 or less export transactions a year. This means that many companies, particularly smaller companies, don’t have the scale or resources to find alternative avenues for their exports and either pay additional taxes or stop exporting altogether.
“This anti-competitive surge in new trade barriers unfortunately comes at a time when arguably the WTO has never been weaker. Two of the WTO’s dispute settlement body’s three remaining judges are due for retirement with new appointments routinely blocked by the United States. A balanced and effective Dispute Settlement System is necessary to enforce WTO rules and guarantee an orderly resolution of trade conflicts. Ai Group joined with the national industry associations of 15 other countries in June to advocate for a way out of this quagmire,” Mr Willox said.
WTO data linked here.