Protectionism might hamper global trade

  • US implemented a fifth of world’s trade barriers in 2017
  • UK among world’s top ten most protectionist economies
  • Agri-food, metals and machinery are the most heavily defended

London – 12 March 2018 – More than 460 new protectionist measures were enacted throughout global economy in 2017, according to new research from leading trade credit insurer Euler Hermes.

A new report, New trade barriers are rising, provides Euler Hermes’ latest analysis of global trends in protectionism 2018.

The US remains the most protectionist trading nation in the world having implemented 401 new measures since 2014, followed by India (293) and Russia (247). The US was the only nation in the top ten ranking to increase the number of new measures implemented between 2016 and 2017, introducing 90 trade barriers, representing 20% of the 467 new measures brought in worldwide. Of those new US trade barriers, 18 were against Canada, 17 were against China, and only two were against Mexico.

The UK ranked tenth having deployed 96 new protectionist measures in the same period, although the number of measures fell by 34 compared to 2016. Germany, Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil, Indonesia and Japan make up the rest of the top ten.

While the number of new protectionist measures remains high, the rate at which they are brought to market is decelerating. There were 1,122 new measures put in place in 2014, 1,023 in 2015 and 827 in 2016.

Agri-food remains the most heavily defended sector having seen 697 new measures since 2014. After that, there were 512 measures introduced for the metals industry and 323 in machinery & equipment.

Ludovic Subran, Chief Economist at Euler Hermes, said:

Trade barriers can have unintended consequences and could hamper global economic growth. While the pace of new protectionist measures coming to market is falling, the cumulative impact of years of new initiatives is a red flag international supply chains. Clearly, the US is pulling in the opposite direction from other trading nations which will continue to draw scrutiny.

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