Trade Wars Reloaded: Protectionism May Not Be Surging Overall, But New Barriers are Rising



  • 467 new protectionist measures were implemented worldwide in 2017. While the pace is slower compared to 2016, the total pool of active measures keeps on rising.
  • 2017 marked the year of a resurgence in US protectionism with 90 new measures. Among the main contributors to new barriers, the US was the only one to enact more measures than in 2016. Retaliation was a motive: import tariffs and anti-dumping measures were increasingly used.
  • In Western Europe, the UK utilizes attractiveness policies such as trade finance and local sourcing- types of protectionism - to attract foreign direct investment. 
  •  New data suggests that Germany and Switzerland rank among the top 10 protectionist countries at 4th and 6th, respectively.  Both countries use trade finance policies to protect developed industries such as machinery and equipment. 
  • In emerging markets, the BRICS countries were responsible for a quarter of all new measures over the last four years. Support to the agrifood and metals sectors in these economies as well as measures aimed at competitors aggravated oversupply and pushed prices down.