World Trade Organization

Trade restrictions close to record levels - WTO

World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general Roberto Azevedo attends a press conference on global trade growth forecasts for 2019-2020, on April 2, 2019 in Geneva
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The WTO has published a report which suggests trade restrictions among the Group of 20 countries remain at historically high levels.

It comes before a G20 meeting in Japan later this week.

G20 economies implemented 20 new trade-restrictive measures between mid-October 2018 and mid-May 2019, including tariff increases, import bans and new customs procedures for exports.

The measures affected an estimated $335.9bn (£263.5bn) worth of goods - the second highest figure on record.

“This report provides further evidence that the turbulence generated by current trade tensions is continuing, with trade flows being hit by new trade restrictions on a historically high level," said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

“These findings should be of serious concern for the whole international community. We urgently need to see leadership from the G20 to ease trade tensions and follow through on their commitment to trade and to the rules-based international trading system.”

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US following rule book over Airbus tariffs

Andrew Walker

World Service economics correspondent

Airbus Plane
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US trade policy under President Trump has been criticised for what some see as a lack of respect for the rules and procedures of the World Trade Organization.

The tariffs on steel and aluminium and on a range of Chinese goods were seen in that light by the Trump administration’s international critics.

Whatever the merits of those arguments, this move on civil aircraft is not a case of that.

The WTO has ruled that the EU and the four governments involved in Airbus have failed to comply with an earlier ruling that they should withdraw contested subsidies and the US has asked for authorisation to retaliate to the tune of $11bn.

The US wants to act quickly when the WTO arbitrator makes a ruling. So far this action seems to be following the WTO rule book.