The World Trade Organization (WTO) has asked the G20 group of nations including India and the US to take lead in promoting open trade globally for pushing economic growth and development. In its monitoring report on G20 trade measure, the Geneva -based multi-lateral body has also stated that trade restriction measures in G20 economies have risen at a moderate rate despite an uncertainty in global economy. G20 is a group of developed and developing countries that also includes Australia, Brazil, China, France, UK and the European Union. A total of 42 new trade-restrictive measures were applied by G20 economies during the review period (mid-October 2016 to mid-May 2017), including new or increased tariffs, customs regulations and rules of origin restrictions, the report said. This is an average of six measures per month – slightly higher than in 2016, it added.
It called on “G20 governments to show leadership in supporting open and mutually beneficial trade as a driver of economic growth and development”. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said there is a high level of economic and policy uncertainty, and “therefore we need to remain vigilant”. Efforts should be stepped up to avoid implementing new trade-restrictive measures and to reverse existing measures, he said, adding that the member countries of the bloc should seek to continue improving the global trading environment, including by implementing the WTO’s trade facilitation pact. However, it said that the economies have also implemented 42 measures that are aimed at facilitating trade during the review period, including the elimination or reduction of tariffs and the simplification of customs procedures.
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The report assumes significance as the WTO in September 2016 lowered its global trade growth forecast for this year to 1.7 per cent, stating that this slowdown is “serious” and should serve as a “wake-up call” for nations. India’s exports are recording positive growth since September 2016. In May, the exports grew by 8.32 per cent to USD 24 billion, even as the trade deficit shot up to nearly 30-month high of USD 13.84 billion, mainly due to increase in gold imports.