World Bank says protection on the rise


The Washington Post reports on a new World Bank study (a summary is here) showing that 17 members of the G20 had enacted measures to limit imports. The Post writes,

The report underscores a “worrying” trend toward protectionism as countries rush to shield their ailing domestic industries during the global economic crisis. It comes one day after Mexico vowed to slap new restrictions on 90 U.S. products. That action is being taken in retaliation against Washington for canceling a program that allowed Mexican truck drivers the right to transport goods across the United States, illustrating the tit-for-tat responses that experts fear could grow in coming months.

The report comes ahead of an April 2 summit in London in which the heads of state from those 20 industrialized and developing economies will seek to shape a coordinated response to the economic crisis. Their inability to keep their November promises is another indication of how difficult it will be to implement any agreement reached next month on a global scale.

Obviously, a little broader than Congress’ efforts on tariff suspensions. Well worth keeping an eye on this. The World Bank report includes this recommendation for G-20 countries:

Commit to greater transparency by agreeing to provide quarterly reports on new trade restrictions, and industrial and agricultural subsidies to the WTO, together with a mandatory analysis of the trade restriction on employment (since this would create new room for technical analysis and political discussion in countries themselves)…

I would hope that that transparency would include public disclosure of those trade restrictions, industrial and agricultural subsidies.