The report is intended to serve as a regular monitoring exercise that conveys factual information on a wide range of trade policies such as tariffs, preferential margins, non-tariff measures, preferential trade agreements, trade defences measures and exchange rates.
It reviews policies directly or indirectly impacting international trade, with particular attention paid to issues affecting developing countries. Its aim is to inform the broader policy dialogue.
The just-released issue of the report highlights that the process of tariff liberalization has continued largely unabated over the past decade, resulting in around three-quarters of international trade being fully liberalized under most favoured nation or preferential tariff regimes. Nevertheless, tariffs remain relatively high in some key sectors of interest to developing countries and for non-regional South-South trade.
The study further takes note of the growing complexity and fragmentation of the international trading system, largely attributed to the proliferation of bilateral and regional preferential trade agreements. Preferential trade agreements have greatly contributed to liberalizing and facilitating international trade, often extending beyond traditional tariff liberalization by covering "behind-the-border" measures. However, the report also shows how the proliferation of these agreements affects the structure and magnitude of preferential margins as well as the policy space allowed to countries to raise tariffs.
In addition, study analyses the evolution in the use of contingency measures (anti-dumping measures, countervailing duties and safeguards) and describes the important role being played by non-tariff measures such as quotas, licensing, pre-shipment inspections, import and export regulations, standards and technical measures. Finally, the report surveys movements in exchange rates and reviews their role in influencing the external competitiveness of countries.