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G-20 Leaders Urged to Limit Restrictive Measures

Global agencies detail growth of protectionism.

GENEVA — The chiefs of three international agencies on Monday urged leaders of the G-20 group of nations — ahead of its two-day summit in Toronto beginning June 26 — to drop restrictive trade and investment measures imposed during the global economic downturn.

This includes restrictive and trade-distorting measures taken by textile and apparel exporting and importing nations.

“Exiting restricting measures should be a priority. A number of G-20 countries took measures that have the potential to restrict trade directly or indirectly,” said a summary of reports from World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development secretary general Angel Gurría and United Nations Conference on Trade & Development secretary general Supachai Panitchpakdi.

The reports cover measures taken from Nov. 1 through mid-May. G-20 governments largely have resisted pressure to enact protectionist measures during the period covered by the reports, the agencies’ chiefs said.

They said there continue to be instances “of new import restrictions and a greater use of export restrictions,” but they also acknowledge that some have taken steps to remove barriers hindering trade. Gurría warned that, with the economic recovery still fragile and unemployment high, “protectionist pressures will remain.”

In apparel and textiles, WTO analysts estimate that global exports in the sector decreased 14.8 percent last year to $498.5 billion from $585.2 billion in 2008.

The WTO said the most common trade measures used to tackle the global slump have been antidumping actions, import licensing requirements and the adoption of import duty surcharges. Antidumping investigations were launched in February by Argentina against textile and apparel imports from Brazil and China, respectively, and by Mexico in April against imports of cotton denim from China.

India reimposed a duty on exports of raw cotton and yarn that had been exempt before April 9, and Pakistan slapped on temporary export restrictions of all types of cotton yarn from March 1 to the end of this month. On the other hand, the WTO pointed out Russia cut import duties on apparel and accessories, other than fur, in half to 10 percent in December.