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UN report: World’s largest economies avoiding protectionism

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The Group of 20 (G20) largest economies are largely keeping their pledges to avoid protectionism as a reaction to the recent global recession, but the rest of the world is increasing trade barriers, a

The Group of 20 (G20) largest economies are largely keeping their pledges to avoid protectionism as a reaction to the recent global recession, but the rest of the world is increasing trade barriers, according to a new report co-authored by the United Nations.

The joint report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), released today, said that most new measures taken by G20 countries from mid-October last year to mid-April this year, eliminated restrictions to international investment or improved clarity for foreign investors.

Today’s report is the latest in a series begun in 2008 when the G20 asked UNCTAD and OECD to monitor members’ investment measures to ensure that protectionist policies are avoided.

The report also noted that the last six months have seen an increase worldwide in measures restricting or regulating foreign investment. Restrictive measures now stand at 35 per cent of all policy measures adopted – the highest proportion since 1992, when UNCTAD first published data on this issue, the agency said.

The policy developments covered by the most recent report took place in a situation where – unlike with global gross domestic product (GDP) and trade flows – global investment flows have not recovered to their levels before the 2008 financial crisis, UNCTAD said.

For the period between 16 October 2010 and 28 April 2011, the report shows that seven G20 members adopted investment-specific policies; nine adopted emergency and related measures with potential impacts on international investment; one adopted an investment measure related to national security; and eight concluded six bilateral investment treaties and six other agreements with investment provisions.