Feb 15, 1985


GENEVA, FEBRUARY (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – Despite their commitments for standstill and rollback, there has been an intensification of existing protectionist measures and introduction of new ones in industrialised countries, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

This picture emerges in a report by the UNCTAD secretariat (TD/B/1059), reviewing the current situation on protectionism in the light of the commitments of Industrial countries at UNCTAD-VI in Belgrade in 1983.

At Belgrade, the Industrial countries committed themselves "to halt protectionism by fully implementing and strictly adhering to the standstill provisions they have adopted, in particular concerning imports from developing countries".

They further agreed "to work systematically towards reducing and eliminating quantitative restrictions and measures having a similar effect".

Empirical evidence, UNCTAD says, shows that "there has been no overall progress in the implementation of the commitments and agreements".

"A few isolated actions" taken in this context, "have, however, been eclipsed by the weight of numerous trade interventions involving import restrictions", UNCTAD points out.

There has also been a similar lack of progress in respect of the agreement on Anti-Dumping (AD) and Counter-Vailing (CV) duties.

At Belgrade, the Industrial countries agreed to review their existing trade legislation, regulations and procedures relating to AD/CV duties, "in order to assure themselves that there are no justifiable impediments to the trade of other countries, in particular that of the developing countries, and to take remedial action as appropriate".

UNCTAD says that despite this, recourse to these non-tariff measures have continued to grow, while the changes introduced "do not appear to have been taken with the aim of removing unjustifiable impediments" to the trade of other countries.

On the other hand, the changes seem likely to increase still further the impediments to imports.

The Industrial countries also agreed at Belgrade to "effectively fulfil their commitments to provide differential and more favourable treatment to developing countries in the field of international trade".

But "actions taken in 1984 appear to have had the overall result of heightening discrimination against developing country exports rather than of providing differential and more favourable treatment".

A conclusion drawn by the secretariat is of the "far-reaching extent and intensification in recent years of protective actions in international trade".

Duties and other import restrictions could be imposed on products or services of countries maintaining export performance requirements (on their foreign investors), including exclusion from entry into the U.S.A. of products subject to such restrictions.

While extending till July 4, 1993, the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) schemes favouring Third World countries, the U.S. law has empowered the president to negotiate concessions form Third World countries "in exchange for continued favoured access under the GSP scheme".

"The law has thus set a clear precedent which is at complete variance with the GPS’s basic principle of non-reciprocity", UNCTAD adds.