Global firms accuse G20 of blocking world trade

Tim Wallace
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THE G20 nations are the worst for building new barriers to trade, hitting the world’s chance of economic recovery, the International Chambers of Commerce said yesterday.

In a damning report, the ICC said 75 per cent of new barriers to trade erected since 2008 came from the Group of 20 countries, despite their pledges to open up the world to more trade.

Global trade should keep growing as the recovery takes off, with the chambers of commerce predicting trade expansion of four per cent in 2014 and five per cent through 2015 and into 2016.

But further growth is being hampered by protectionist government, it warned.

“Trade restrictions are proving stubbornly troublesome and it is of concern that in this report, we see that the G20 countries accounted for three-quarters of the trade-restrictive measures imposed since 2008,” said the ICC’s report.

“The continued use of trade-restrictive measures by G20 countries far outpaces efforts to liberalise or remove existing barriers.”

It highlighted so-called anti-dumping tariffs and restrictions as a key cause of these problems.

The measures are typically politically justified as rules to reduce imports and push up prices of very cheap foreign goods, in a bid to protect domestic industries, at a cost to domestic consumers.

“The continued use of such measures despite an open commitment to exercise restraint is damaging the G20’s credibility as a viable leader of trade reform,” said the report.

Spokespeople for the G20 were unavailable for comment.

The ICC’s study did find some positive factors encouraging trade – 68 per cent of its members reported that trade finance is increasingly available, though 41 per cent still said there were problems accessing it, holding back some growth in international trade.