The WTO and its predecessor the GATT have been remarkably successful in negotiating down tariffs over the past six decades. But trade is still a long way from free and since the global crisis, it is becoming even less so. This column reviews the facts, economics, and motives behind these new non-tariff barriers and discusses the challenges they pose for the WTO.
Marc Bacchetta, Cosimo Beverelli, 31 July 2012
Simon Evenett, 20 July 2012
Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Viv Davies about the recent increase of protectionist measures in the world trading system. They also discuss the implications of the rise in regional trade agreements, the potential effects of Russia joining the WTO and the impact of slow growth in Europe on the region’s trade with the rest of the world. Evenett maintains that defenders of the world trading system should do more to prevent the current subordination of trade policy. The interview was recorded by telephone on 17 July 2012.
Chad Bown, Meredith Crowley, 14 July 2012
Antidumping tends to get no respect from economists. Many view the most popular import restriction among industrialised and middle-income economies today as politically-biased protectionism hiding behind the rhetoric of fair trade. This column challenges long-held perceptions by reinterpreting antidumping import restrictions as the grease that keeps the wheels of the liberal world trading system turning.
Gregory Corcos, Massimo Del Gatto, Giordano Mion, Gianmarco Ottaviano, 10 July 2012
As protectionist pressures mount worldwide, it is important to continue to shore up the case for open trade policy. This column presents new evidence from Europe on an old gain from trade – the weeding out effect – namely the way increased cross-border competition selects and favours the most productive firms. It argues that this mechanism brings about large gains.
Simon Evenett, 14 June 2012
The 11th GTA report provides a detailed account of the resort to beggar-thy-neighbour policies from the first crisis-era G20 summit in November 2008 until May 2012. The findings suggest that international restraints on contemporary protectionism are pretty weak and that if the battle against protectionism is to be won it must be fought in national capitals.
Charles Roxburgh, Richard Dobbs, Jan Mischke, 31 May 2012
Are emerging markets a threat to jobs and competitiveness for the industrialised countries? This column argues that such concerns are often based on myths. Armed with the facts, policymakers in mature economies should focus on the opportunities emerging markets present rather than viewing them as a threat.
Nadia Rocha, Paolo Giordani, Michele Ruta, 09 May 2012
International food prices are on the rise and becoming increasing volatile, reaching crisis levels in recent years. This column argues that one overlooked reason for this is the rise in protectionist policies aimed at restricting food exports.
Chad Bown, Meredith Crowley, 28 April 2012
As the global economy entered a crisis not seen since the Great Depression, many feared a return of 1930s-style protectionism. This column asks why many countries avoided this fate, focusing on trade policy in the US and EU.
Andrew Rose, 27 April 2012
Conventional wisdom says that when the economy starts to nosedive, the trade barriers start to rise. But this column argues that maybe protectionism isn’t countercyclical after all.
John Van Reenen, 17 February 2012
The Great Recession has beckoned the ominous return of protectionism. While not condoning such policies, this column argues that if governments must provide investment subsidies to domestic firms, there is a much larger bang for their buck if they target small businesses rather than larger ones. Cash-strapped governments should take note.
Simon Evenett, 21 November 2011
The 10th GTA report documents several factors that together imply that the protectionist threat to the world trading system is probably as significant as it was in the first half of 2009, when such concerns were last at their peak.
Simon Evenett, 25 November 2011
Simon Evenett talks to Viv Davies about the 10th Global Trade Alert report, which concludes that the protectionist threat to the world trading system is as significant now as it was in early 2009. Evenett suggests that there has been considerable resort to the use of non-tariff barriers and more murky forms of protectionism and that countries continue to circumvent WTO rules. He concludes that policymakers have reason to be seriously concerned and that the world trading system may face its greatest test yet in the year ahead. The interview was recorded on 24 November 2011. [Also read the transcript]
Simon Evenett, 21 November 2011
The last Global Trade Alert report back in July 2011 raised concerns that a deteriorating macroeconomic climate would lead to greater protectionism. The fear has come to pass. This column, which introduces the latest GTA report, shows that the incidence of protectionism in the third quarter of 2011 is as high as during the most troubling of 2009, when protectionist fears were at their peak. Several large trading nations have taken across-the-board measures that adversely affect many trading partners. The world trading system may face its greatest test in the year ahead.
Kishore Gawande, Bernard Hoekman, Yue Cui, 10 November 2011
The Great Trade Collapse of 2008–09 did not give rise to rampant protectionism. This column examines the determinants of the observed pattern of trade-policy responses to the 2008 crisis, using data for seven large emerging markets that have a history of active use of trade policy. Vertical specialisation is found to be the most powerful economic factor determining trade-policy responses.
Anne Krueger, 21 October 2011
Anne Krueger of Johns Hopkins University talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the issues around globalisation and the crisis covered in her forthcoming book, ‘Struggling with Success: Challenges facing the International Economy’. She discusses the eurozone crisis, US debt issues, the threat of rising protectionism and the role of the multilateral institutions. The interview was recorded at the Global Economic Symposium in Kiel, Germany, in early October 2011. [Also read the transcript.]
Hylke Vandenbussche, Christian Viegelahn, 04 September 2011
Has there been a protectionist backlash by the EU since the outbreak of the global crisis? This column, part of a collection of four columns on trade responses to the crisis, finds that thus far this has not been the case. It does not find any major trade policy changes during the crisis compared with the pre-crisis path.
Piyush Chandra, 04 September 2011
As tariffs have decreased around the world, many countries have started using other measures of protection, such as antidumping duties. This column explores China's imposition of such duties during 1997-2009. It finds that China’s antidumping duties disproportionally targeted high-income countries and were almost all in five sectors – chemicals, paper and pulp, plastics and rubber, steel, and textiles.
Chad Bown, 29 August 2011
While the Great Recession has not led to a massive global resort to protectionism, governments have nevertheless been active with their trade policy during the crisis. This column explores how governments adjusted the scale and composition of their temporary trade barriers – antidumping, safeguard, and countervailing-duty policies –during the crisis, as well as how policy use fits recent historical context and creates the need for post-crisis policy reform.
Simon Evenett, 22 July 2011
Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Viv Davies about the 9th Global Trade Alert report, which suggests that G20 governments’ resolve to resist protectionism has faltered since the Seoul summit. Evenett describes murky protectionism, the impact of the crisis on the BRICs and the least developed countries, and how WTO rules are being circumvented. The interview was recorded in London on 18 July 2011. [Also read the transcript.]
Simon Evenett, 20 July 2011
Despite the public commitments made at the Seoul G20 summit, this year protectionism has slipped off the work programme of G20 nations. The latest evidence published in the 9th Report of the Global Trade Alert, summarised here, shows that government resolve against protectionism has weakened as global economic prospects have dimmed. The global trading system is not out of the protectionist woods.