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trade policy

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

New Trade Strategy for a New Reality

Bernard Hoekman's picture

The recent crisis dramatically illustrated how trade can be a powerful channel through which major external shocks are transmitted to countries, both negative and positive, as the resurgence in trade has been very robust and been a central feature of the global economic recovery.