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January 2012

Rise of non-tariff protectionism amid global uncertainty

Julia Oliver's picture

A troubling phenomenon is occurring in large, emerging economies: the gates are closing. Governments, skittish about global economic trends, are introducing new policies to limit imports and exports. The aim is to protect domestic industry in tough times, but the tools governments are using threaten to make their economic problems worse.

A December World Bank analysis documents a trend of creeping protectionism in countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia – all countries with burgeoning industry. Instead of tariffs, other more indirect policies are being used to hinder free commerce between countries. The Bank analysis, based on World Trade Organization (WTO) monitoring reports and data from the Global Trade Alert, a network of think tanks around the globe, found that the number of non-tariff measures (NTMs) –including quotas, import licensing requirements and discriminatory government procurement rules –showed an increasing trend in the first two years post-2008, and rose sharply in 2011. India, China, Indonesia, Argentina, Russia, and Brazil together accounted for almost half of all the new NTMs imposed by countries world-wide.

The measures take various forms. In December, amid a political shake-up, Indonesia announced its intention to

Why it’s important to “Think Equal” when it comes to trade facilitation

Gender equality can not only spur country competitiveness, but taking this aspect into account in trade related interventions can help obtain better outcomes. Often times, however, it can be difficult for practitioners to understand how to apply gender into their trade work.

There is indeed a gap between the literature and the type of trade interventions that are becoming increasingly important in the World Bank portfolio. The majority of the literature has focused on the relationship between gender equality as outcome and trade liberalization policies (measured usually by tariffs or openness to trade). While this type of liberalization and the exposure to the global environment is still a key area for support, there is only