The severe contraction of world trade volume during the recent global crisis – the steepest
since the Great Depression – was a major blow to the global economy and to countries which
had pursued development strategy of export-led growth. In the aftermath of the crisis many
governments in developed and developing countries contemplated or were pushed into using trade
policy instruments, especially in the form of non-tariff measures (NTMs), to protect their domestic
industries and producers. The danger of “beggar-thy-neighbor” protectionist policies was again a
Happily, initial fears of a mutually devastating protectionist war in response to the economic
crisis did not materialize. This was thanks to a large extent, to the strength of the existing rulesbased
multilateral trading system. However, the threat of retaliatory protectionism is not yet over
and requires the full attention of the international community in the post-crisis policy environment to
guard against it. It is important therefore to continue monitoring and analyzing trade policy actions,
particularly NTMs and for that, we need comprehensive and accurate information.
The financial and economic crisis has changed the landscape of economic policy and presents
one of those rare occasions when a new direction could be taken. Opportunities exist in the area of
trade policy to adapt the international trade agenda to the changing requirements and expectations
of the private sector. There are also substantial business opportunities arising in new areas, such as
environmental goods and ‘green’ technologies.
This publication aims to provide decision makers in government and the private sector
with a post-crisis analysis of some of the major trade challenges and opportunities, particularly for
developing countries. It represents the continuation of a collaborative project between UNCTAD
and JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization).