Above, in the article on the AfCFTA, we looked at how that free trade area intends to open up Africa’s markets to intra-African trade. The more Africa can trade within the Continent, the less its economies will be affected by global trade downturns outside its control. A new WTO report shows that global trade tensions continued to dominate the headlines and add to the uncertainty surrounding international trade and the world economy, with G20 economies accounting for the overwhelming share of the trade coverage of import-restrictive measures during the review period. It also provides evidence that this turbulence is continuing after the previous period (mid-October 2017 to mid-October 2018) saw a record level of new restrictive measures introduced (USD 588.3 billion). Most of these measures remain in place and have now been added to by a series of new measures in the current period which are also at a historically high level.
The report shows that WTO members applied 38 new trade-restrictive measures during the review period mainly through tariff increases, import bans, special safeguards, import taxes and export duties. The trade coverage of import-restrictive measures implemented between mid-October 2018 and mid-May 2019 is estimated at USD 339.5 billion – 44% above the average since October 2012 when the report started including trade coverage figures. The report also notes that several significant trade-restrictive measures either will be implemented shortly after the period covered or remain under consultation for potential later implementation, suggesting that the precarious situation in global trade will persist.