Trade Restrictions Increasing but Global Investment Remains Open

Most G20 governments have put in place some restrictive trade measures over the past six months, but have on the whole honoured their pledge to keep international investment open, according to the OECD, UNCTAD and WTO.


In their fifth report to the G20, the OECD and UNCTAD say that most new investment measures taken by G20 governments between 16 October 2010 and 28 April 2011 have reduced restrictions to international capital flows and improved clarity for investors. The WTO section of the report deals with trade issues.


Three countries introduced new restrictions on investment: Brazil, China and Russia.


“There are still many risks to the global economic recovery, so it’s encouraging that G20 countries have kept their markets open for foreign investment,” says OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “But they must resist calls for trade protectionism if they want to keep the recovery on track.”


Many emergency measures taken in response to the crisis, such as the rescues of banks and non-financial companies, have now been phased out. The assets and liabilities resulting from these measures on governments’ accounts are being wound down, says the report.


At least six countries – Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – still hold legacy assets and liabilities in several hundred financial firms, exceeding US$1.5 trillion for the financial sector alone. But concerns that the implementation or unwinding of these measures might involve overt discrimination against foreign investors have not materialised.


Leaders of the G20, which comprises the world’s largest economies, committed to resist protectionism and promote global trade and investment at summits in 2008, 2009 and 2010. They mandated WTO, OECD and UNCTAD – the leading international organisations in the area of international trade and investment policies – to monitor policy developments and report publicly on countries’ adherence to their commitments.





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