The Global Trade Alert publishes brief reports twice a year. Every GTA report focuses on a new and current topic in international commerce. It presents original research on the topic as well as summaries of the latest updates to the GTA database. To facilitate their targeted reading, the GTA reports are divided into a dozen short chapters with 2-4 pages each.


Emergent Digital Fragmentation: The Perils of Unilateralism

Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz | 28 June 2022

Policymakers are flying blind as they shape and nurture the digital domain. The last inventory of government intervention affecting this critical vehicle for opportunity and growth was published four years ago. Much has happened since. No official institution has a global mandate to track policy intervention in the digital domain. Nothing good comes of this evidence gap. Officials learn less from the prior choices of peers. Patchy information reinforces the tendency of officials to retreat into silos, resulting in state initiatives that don’t take into account the complexities of an evolving, multi-faceted digital domain which exists in a world with extensive cross-border ties. Accountability is diminished too. This report fills in the evidence gap. It adopts a comprehensive view of both the economic activities associated with the digital domain and the policies affecting the digital domain and their cross-border repercussions. Drawing upon two extensive inventories of public policy intervention, the Digital Policy Alert and the Global Trade Alert, this report delineates the global policy landscape towards the digital domain with a focus on the G20 nations and members of the European Union.


The 28th Global Trade Alert Report

Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz | 25 Oct 2021

The 28th Global Trade Alert Report will be published on 25 October 2021 in advance of the G20 Leaders Summit in Rome. In addition to our traditional reporting on the policy interventions undertaken by G20 members, this report will have a special focus on the subsidies awarded by China, the European Union, and the United States since the Global Financial Crisis.

An expanded Essential Goods monitoring initiative

21st Century Tracking of Pandemic-Era Trade and Investment Policies in Food and Medical Products (August 2022 update)

The Global Trade Alert Team | 04 May 2020

The purpose of this initiative is to collect information on changes in trade policy towards exports and imports of medical and food products so as to document the cumulative resort to trade policies since the beginning of 2020. Information on such policy changes are processed, collated, and shared on a monthly basis. Since 1 January 2021 this monitoring was expanded to include investment policy screening decisions in the essential goods sector. Furthermore, given the sensitivity attached to COVID-19 vaccines, trade policies affecting such vaccines are separately identified in our database. Maps summarising some of the features of the cumulative policy response are prepared as well. The maps, underlying information, and a methodology note can be downloaded in the winzip file provided.

Correcting Misleading Empirical Evidence and Other Errors About the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions

Setting the Record Straight

Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz | 07 Jun 2022

This note corrects a number of misleading and incorrect claims found in a South Centre paper that was circulated to trade diplomats immediately before the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO.

A White Paper published by the World Economic Forum

Conflict, Sanctions and the Future of World Trade

Simon J. Evenett | 12 May 2022

Heightened geopolitical tensions raise questions about the consequences for the global trading system. Five scenarios have been identified and explored in this paper for the benefit of business and government leaders navigating an increasingly uncertain landscape. This White Paper was published by the World Economic Forum in advance of its 2022 Annual Meeting in May 2022.


Isolating the Russian Economy: The overlooked role of international shipping costs

Simon J. Evenett and Marc-Andreas Muendler | 26 Apr 2022

Just one-quarter of World Trade Organization (WTO) members, a total of 40 governments, have moved to impose additional tariffs on Russian exports following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine—an outcome that limits the punishment metered out to the Russian economy. This cBrief draws upon the precedent of medium-term sanctions on the Apartheid regime in South Africa, where a combination of trade and investment sanctions as well as elevated international transport costs isolated that nation’s economy. We present evidence that sustained, modest increases in shipping costs reduce Russian GDP more over the medium-term than G7 and EU Member States imposing heavy tariffs on Russian exports. Strategies to isolate the Russian economy therefore need to keep the global shipping giants onside.

Benchmarking the 2022 NTE report

The state of digital trade barriers and internet fragmentation

Johannes Fritz | 14 Apr 2022

We compare the findings of the Digital Policy Alert with those of the latest USTR's National Trade Estimate Report to identify fragmentation risks for the digital economy.

Paper prepared for the World Trade Forum 2021 dedicated to analysing 20 years of China's WTO membership

The post-accession treatment of Chinese goods exports by WTO Members

Simon J. Evenett | 29 Mar 2022

The extent to which Chinese goods exports faced unilateral trade policy changes taken by other WTO members is documented here and decomposed between those policy changes that specifically target China and those that do not. Chinese goods exposure to measures taken by the European Union, the United States, China’s regional partners, and those taken worldwide are also contrasted, in terms of scale, discriminatory or liberalising treatment, as well as timing. The degree to which China’s WTO membership protected its goods exports from worse competitive conditions since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis is assessed and found wanting.

Form, Frequency, Duration & Scale

COVID-era Trade Policy Interventions Affecting Medical Goods

Simon J. Evenett | 23 Mar 2022

Drawing upon the findings of several trade policy surveillance initiatives, an account is presented here of government resort to trade restrictions and reforms affecting medical goods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some nations mustered effective public health responses early in the pandemic without resorting to trade restrictions. Some other governments quickly reversed export restrictions once their adverse side effects became evident. However, another group of nations have removed COVID-19 trade restrictions very slowly, if they removed them at all. These findings challenge the assumption that existing multilateral rules effectively regulate the crisis-era application of general exceptions to non-discrimination norms for goods trade. While the logic of those exceptions is to prevent multilateral trade obligations impeding public health responses, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that these flawed rules on exceptions have attenuated the contribution of cross-border trade to pandemic response, in particular in those developing countries that source much medical goods from abroad.

First cBrief with the University of California-San Diego

Making Moscow Pay: How much extra bite will G7 & EU trade sanctions have?

Simon J. Evenett and Marc-Andreas Muendler | 11 Mar 2022

Following the revocation of MFN treatment of Russian goods, the members of the G7 and European Union (EU27) can raise import tariffs sharply. We outline three trade sanction scenarios in this computation-based brief and report their predicted effects on Russian GDP, on bilateral exports, and on Russian job losses. Once the Russian economy has adjusted, the most severe trade sanction scenario is expected to result in a permanent GDP reduction of 1.06%, in bilateral Russian exports to the G7 and EU27 nations falling by 70.9%, and in 522,000 job losses from the Russian energy sector. Losses on this scale for Russia amount to a third of the estimated GDP gain from its WTO accession. The same scenario is estimated to result in 206,000 job losses in the G7 and EU27 and to reduce their joint GDP by 0.06% permanently.

The Case of Ukraine Since the Annexation of Crimea

Trade Policy & Deterring War

Simon Evenett | 14 Feb 2022

While potential military developments—including steps that reinforce Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself—may be decisive in the days ahead, the capacity of Ukraine to strengthen its armed forces over the medium term depended on its access to foreign markets in part. In this note, evidence is presented that casts doubt on the extent to which EU, UK, and US commercial policies have supported Ukrainian export growth since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. These findings speak to the longstanding cornerstone of the world trading system that international trade and peace are inextricably linked--in this case, short-sighted unilateral policy decisions by the West may have undercut broader diplomatic objectives of shoring up Ukraine and deterring war.

E-Commerce Moratorium & the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference

Is the WTO Moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce depriving developing countries of much needed revenue?

Simon J. Evenett | 22 Nov 2021

This note vitiates assertions by UNCTAD staff that developing countries have lost significant government revenues as products previously delivered physically are supplied digitally. Taking for the sake of argument UNCTAD’s revenue loss estimates, this note shows that they represent small shares of tax revenues from sources other than customs duties. Forgone revenues would have financed less than 5 days of government spending in the Least Developed Countries and Sub-Saharan African nations. Moreover, domestic tax takes needed only to grow marginally faster to offset UNCTAD’s estimates of forgone customs duties. Low per-capita income status is not a barrier to successful national tax reform, calling in question the relevance of public finance objections to participation in multilateral trade initiatives to integrate economies.

Evidence from the G20 members during 2020

Must An Effective Activist State Harm Trading Partners?

Simon J. Evenett | 30 Jul 2021

A longstanding presumption in trade policy circles is that governments should be afforded significant discretion in responding to crises. Even so, it is recognised in the declarations of many international summits and elsewhere that there should be limits to the extent to which external stability is jettisoned in the pursuit of internal stability. This chapter presents evidence that the frequency of cross-border harm inflicted by G20 members varied considerably in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. G20 policy choice differed along a number of other critical dimensions too. Such evidence begs the question posed in the title of this chapter; the tension between internal and external stability may be more apparent than real. Technocratic work to identify trade-friendly crisis response packages should commence, providing a robust factual basis for discussions between WTO members once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.


Advancing Sustainable Development With FDI: Why Policy Must Be Reset

Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz | 02 Jun 2021

Sharp reductions in FDI inflows have occurred since the onset of the pandemic. The reality is that FDI was in trouble long before. This comes at a time when governments and civil society are demanding that international business play a greater role in addressing pressing global challenges, such as advancing sustainable development and the transition to a low carbon economy. The 27th Global Trade Alert report shows that these demands are being made when financial returns on FDI in all but one emerging market region are barely above those earned in safer industrial country markets. Moreover, the report shows that since 2015 government policies have become less conducive to FDI, a finding not confined to any one group of host nations. The report contends that if multinational enterprises are to play a greater role then policy needs to be reset to restore the commercial viability of FDI. The report's findings have implications for national development policies, for deliberations on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, for the financing of FDI, and for the negotiation on investment accords.

Policy Note circulated by The European Money and Finance Forum

What Caused the Resurgence in FDI Screening?

Simon J. Evenett | 22 May 2021

Since 2019 at least 30 governments have introduced or strengthened policies that screen foreign investments ostensibly on national security grounds. That 28 such policy changes occurred after 31 December 2019 led some to posit a link to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic was an important aggravating factor, the spread of digital general-purpose technologies and growing geopolitical rivalry are enduring factors that account for the greater resort to FDI screening. Consequently, few of the recently restrictive policy changes are likely to be reversed; a permanent shift in the treatment of foreign investors is underway.

Thought leadership with Airfinty

How Much Vaccine Will Be Produced This Year?

Simon J. Evenett and Matt Linley | 20 May 2021

The private sector is ramping up fast COVID-19 vaccine production, thereby narrowing the gap between vaccine supply and demand. The purpose of this note is to report the latest estimates of how much of the vaccine shortage will be eliminated this year, given what is known today about existing vaccine production capacity, announced capacity expansion this year, and sobering lessons learned from attempts to boost production during the first five months of this year. The projections reported here do not include any extra production that might result from the adoption of a TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization.

Thought leadership with Airfinty

How Much Surplus Vaccine Will the U.S. Have?

Simon J. Evenett and Matt Linley | 20 May 2021

The scaling up of COVID-19 vaccine production in the United States is impressive. Depending on the decisions taken by the Biden Administration in the weeks ahead, surpluses of vaccines could soon arise. This note presents estimates of the size of that surplus under different scenarios, each reflecting a distinct policy choice by the White House.

Arguments for an attribute-based approach

Mapping Policies Affecting Digital Trade

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 15 Apr 2021

The purpose of this paper is to ask and answer foundational questions concerning the collection of meaningful information about policy stance towards digital trade.

Thought leadership with Airfinty

Halting India’s Vaccine Exports: The Fallout

Simon J. Evenett and Matt Linley | 08 Apr 2021

The world--in particular, the developing world--is counting on India to supply them with COVID-19 vaccines. During March 2021 Indian exports of such vaccines collapsed and GAVI noted that shipments in March and April 2021 were likely to be delayed. On 7 April 2021 the CEO of the Serum Institute of India said that shipments might be resumed in June 2021 so long as local Indian needs were met first. In this analysis, the delays to vaccination programmes in Africa, in Asia, and in Latin America and the Carribean are estimated should India cease exports.

A Chatham House Briefing Paper

Trade policy and medical supplies during COVID-19: Ideas for avoiding shortages and ensuring continuity of trade

Simon J. Evenett | 08 Apr 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore concerns about shortages of medical goods, including vaccines, and about the risks associated with competition for supplies. Policymakers to date have often advocated ill-conceived approaches that misunderstand the dynamics of relevant supply chains. International mechanisms have a role in supporting properly devised national initiatives to ensure resilient supplies in times of crisis. To this end, this paper proposes a three-part framework for policy coordination, consisting of: — Promotion of effective public health responses, including early intervention in emergencies and potential domestic rationing of key supplies. — Specific national measures for medical goods, including revised rules on domestic and overseas procurement, de-risking of supply chains, and ‘trade facilitation plans’ to suspend tariffs and taxes and fast-track port clearances. — A confidence-building MoU to codify key principles. Signatories would commit to joint-purchasing arrangements and data sharing on medical goods stockpiles. Swap arrangements for stockpiles should also be agreed. The MoU could be presented for adoption at the G7 summit in June 2021. It could also form the basis for a wider agreement to be announced on the sidelines of the 2021 UN General Assembly.

A World Bank Policy Research Working Paper

The Covid-19 Vaccine Production Club: Will Value Chains Temper Nationalism?

Simon Evenett, Bernard Hoekman, Nadia Rocha, and Michele Ruta | 06 Mar 2021

In the first two months of 2021, the production of COVID-19 vaccines has suffered setbacks delaying the implementation of national inoculation strategies. These delays have revealed the concentration of vaccine manufacture in a small club of producer nations, which in turn has implications for the degree to which cross-border value chains can deter more aggressive forms of Vaccine Nationalism, such as export curbs. This paper documents the existence of this club, taking account of not just the production of final vaccines but also the ingredients of and items needed to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. During 2017-19, vaccine producing nations sourced 88% of their key vaccine ingredients from other vaccine producing trading partners. Combined with the growing number of mutations of COVID-19 and the realization that this coronavirus is likely to become a permanent endemic global health threat, this finding calls for a rethink of the policy calculus towards ramping up the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, its ingredients, and the various items needed to deliver them. The more approved vaccines that are safely produced, the smaller will be the temptation to succumb to zero-sum Vaccine Nationalism.

Published in the World Trade Review

Economic Statecraft: Is There a Sub-National Dimension? Evidence from United States-China Rivalry

Simon J. Evenett | 24 Feb 2021

Using detailed information on policy interventions by US sub-national governments between 2009 and 2019, the contribution of such public bodies to Sino-US geopolitical rivalry is examined, in particular since President Trump took office in 2017. While US sub-national governments accounted for 28% of all US policy interventions that harmed Chinese commercial interests, awarding firm-specific subsidies in 88% of cases, the timing and sectoral incidence of such intervention suggests that economic statecraft considerations could only be part of the explanation for their actions. Ironically, the interventions of US sub-national governments and their weak commitment to transparency have much in common with their frequently maligned Chinese counterparts.

Published in the Journal of International Economic Law

The Smoot-Hawley Fixation: Putting the Sino-US Trade War in Contemporary and Historical Perspective

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Feb 2021

The extent to which the Sino-US trade war represents a break from the past is examined in this published paper. This ongoing trade war is benchmarked empirically against the Smoot-Hawley tariff increase and against the sustained, covert discrimination by governments against foreign commercial interests witnessed since the start of the global economic crisis. The Sino-US trade war is not the defining moment that some contend. Thus, laying the blame for the current woes of global trade entirely at the feet of policymakers in Beijing or Washington, D.C., is unfounded. Since the rot started well before 2018 and implicates many states, greater attention should be given to the factors determining the unilateral commercial policies of governments during and after systemic economic crisis. The insights presented here from the economic history literature of the 1930s presented here are useful in this regard. Moreover, claims that existing multilateral trade rules have bite are hard to square with the very large shares of global trade affected by policy measures favouring local firms implemented over the past decade. When confronted with severe adverse economic conditions for better or for worse, WTO members had plenty of policy space after all.

Book chapter

The Trade & Government Procurement Policy Nexus: Before and After The COVID-19 Pandemic

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Feb 2021

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic the purpose of this chapter is to reflect on the implications of this stress test for the trade and government procurement nexus. Drawing on data collected on government policy response and on the recent analyses of others, this chapter will ask whether current arrangements and practices are fit for purpose. If not, why not? Do any deficiencies reflect lacunae, blind spots, or implicit assumptions that turned out to be false? Perhaps any failings reflect the fact that the extant nexus was not designed to cope with pandemics in the first place?

Has the EU Opened Pandora’s Box?

Export Controls on COVID-19 Vaccines

Simon J. Evenett | 31 Jan 2021

Will the EU's trading partners be reassured by the new export regime on COVID-19 vaccines? If not, what could they do about it? And, could this spiral out of control? For five scenarios going forward, see our briefing.

The 26th Global Trade Alert report

Collateral Damage: Cross-Border Fallout from Pandemic Policy Overdrive

Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz | 16 Nov 2020

This report provides the most comprehensive account to date of the cross-border commercial fallout from government measures taken to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Information on 2,031 policy interventions taken during the first 10 months of 2020 was analysed in the preparation of this report. For sure, not every element of pandemic response had consequences for trading partners. Of those that did, three-quarters were harmful. Major findings are presented in the Executive Summary. Given the improved prospects for a revival in multilateral trade cooperation, we make three policy recommendations.

Pragmatic Ideas for a New WTO Director-General

Revitalising Multilateralism

Simon J. Evenett and Richard Baldwin (editors) | 10 Nov 2020

In the midst of profound contemporary shifts and shocks facing humankind, a quarter of a century after its creation the World Trade Organization (WTO) is evidently not where pressing trade problems are being solved. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a lens, the purpose of this volume is to offer insights into the underlying choices faced by WTO members as well as to offer pragmatic suggestions for a WTO work programme over the next three years.


Chinese whispers: COVID-19, global supply chains in essential goods, and public policy

Simon J. Evenett | 05 Nov 2020

If taken at their word, senior policymakers in the major economic powers have drawn adverse conclusions concerning the performance of cross-border supply chains during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. That such supply chains often implicate China, the origin of the pandemic, has also led to claims that trading partners have become too dependent on Chinese supplies. This in turn has led to policy interventions designed to reconfigure supply chains, which if adopted broadly could revise the terms upon which international business operates. A critical evaluation of this policymaker assessment is presented, based on near-time monitoring of medical and food trade disruption induced by government policy, on fine-grained trade data on the pre-pandemic international sourcing patterns of medical goods and medicines by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, on statements from U.S. government health experts before and during the pandemic on the frequency and sources of medicine shortages, and on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s latest evidence on the causes of medicine shortages in 2020. Such evidence vitiates the adverse conclusions mentioned above, but raises important questions about the factors that determine policy towards international business during a time of intensifying geopolitical rivalry.

Industrial Subsidies As a Major Policy Response Since the Global Financial Crises: Consequences and Remedies

Peter Draper, Andreas Freytag, Henry Gao, Naoise McDonagh & Simon J. Evenett | 14 Sep 2020

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is at an impasse regarding the resolution of tensions surrounding the issue of subsidies. The weak implementation and surveillance of WTO disciplines is attributable to the lack of notifications by WTO members. Currently, major members are developing plurilateral initiatives to deal with the perceived unfair application of subsidies, which leads to market distortions, overcapacity, and unfair competition. Are these steps an attempt at broad reform or a self-serving agenda aimed at certain other members? This policy brief explores the major issues around subsidies, and identifies a plurilateral path forward if a broad—than member-targeted—reform agenda is to be followed. It proposes procedural steps that the Group of Twenty (G20) members can follow to address the subsidies problem and, thus, provides a set of substantive options to guide the proposed deliberations.

A Global Trade Alert analysis for the Commonwealth Secretariat

Exports at Risk from Non-Tariff Measures: The Experience of Commonwealth Countries

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Aug 2020

This study breaks new ground by combining three substantial databases of commercial policy change over the past decade to compute the shares of Commonwealth exports at risk from adverse policy changes and reforms by trading partners. The calculations undertaken for this study use the finest-grain trade data available globally, and the conservative methods employed imply that the resulting estimates almost certainly understate the scale of the threat to living standards. The study demonstrates that larger shares of Commonwealth member countries’ exports have been exposed to changes in other policies, undertaken by their trading partners, that have tilted the commercial playing field towards favoured, local firms.

A Global Trade Alert analysis for the VDMA

Impediments to German Mechanical Engineering Exports

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Aug 2020

This analysis identifies where foreign trade distortions put at risk significant shares of the exports of the German mechanical engineering sector. Although initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic, by focusing on the policies holding back German mechanical engineering exports at the beginning of 2020, this study provides a benchmark against which pandemic-era policies affecting trade can be judged. This study goes beyond traditional import restrictions, such as tariffs and anti-dumping duties and takes account of subsidies to import-competing firms, export incentives provided by foreign governments to their firms selling into third markets, as well as new regulations that may become barriers to trade. Estimates of the percentage of German mechanical engineering exports facing each of these policies in every foreign trading partner have been calculated too.

A VoxEU eBook

COVID-19 and Trade Policy: Why Turning Inward Won’t Work

Richard E. Baldwin & Simon J. Evenett | 29 Apr 2020

World trade will soon collapse largely as a result of governments’ battle against the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conventional wisdom has it that economic recessions are the handmaiden of protectionism. Should governments turn inward and further weaken cross-border commercial ties? The contributors to this eBook assess pandemic-era trade policy developments, reference precedent cases, and provide an unequivocal answer: No.

A Trade Bargain to Secure Supplies of Medical Goods

Preparing for a Second Wave of COVID-19

Simon J. Evenett & L. Alan Winters | 27 Apr 2020

The recent free-for-all witnessed in trade policymaking on medical goods has had an unintended consequence—paradoxically, it may have laid the foundations for a bargain between importing and exporting nations. In this paper, Simon Evenett and Alan Winters describe the underlying commercial logic of this bargain, its elements, and their WTO compatibility. Critically, the bargain does not require global participation or endless trade talks. Done right there would be a market penalty for manufacturers in exporting nations whose governments choose to free ride on this arrangement. The paper also discusses this proposal in relation to other recent joint trade policy initiatives in this critical area of world trade.

Tackling COVID-19 Together

Simon J. Evenett | 23 Mar 2020

The past fortnight has witnessed a sharp increase in zero-sum, unilateral trade policy acts as governments scramble for medical supplies and equipment. During a pandemic such zero-sum behaviour risks inflicting an unconscionable human toll, as a case study on medical ventilators in this note makes clear. Rather than dwell exclusively on negative developments in this note, the case is also made for a bottom-up, cooperative trade policy initiative in which governments working together can exploit scale and ensure that trade policy does not diminish the payoff from public health interventions.

The Trade Policy Dimension

Tackling Coronavirus

Simon J. Evenett | 11 Mar 2020

Protective medical equipment (such as masks), medicines, disinfectant, and soap are needed to tackle the Coronavirus. Many countries source these medical supplies from abroad and so trade policy stance becomes part of national policy responses to the Coronavirus. Using information on policy developments through to 10 March 2020, this note presents a global picture on the resort to export and import restrictions on these much needed medical supplies. The likely effects of these restrictions are discussed along with their coherence with the medical responses to the Coronavirus. The note describes how trade policy can make a positive contribution to this important societal threat and five specific policy recommendations are advanced.

The 25th Global Trade Alert Report

Going It Alone? Trade policy after Three Years of Populism

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 22 Dec 2019

The populist and nationalist turn in many nations’ politics has sharpened the rhetoric towards globalisation. But did this translate into changes on the ground in trade, investment, and migration policies? This report examines whether a worldwide shift away from the level commercial playing field is underway or whether turns inward are localised. Unlike many reports by international organisations, which tend to focus on six-month reporting cycles, the evaluation here covers the entire, recent Populist era.

The 24th Global Trade Alert Report

Jaw Jaw not War War: Prioritising WTO Reform Options

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 12 Jun 2019

G20 Leaders are due to discuss options to revive the moribund WTO at the upcoming Osaka Summit. The purpose of this Global Trade Alert report is to identify WTO reform options that directly address the first-order problems that have built up over the past decade. Our approach ties prescription to diagnosis.

Article in the Journal of International Business Policy

Protectionism, state discrimination, and international business since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis

Simon J. Evenett | 01 Mar 2019

The manner and extent of state discrimination against international business since the start of the Global Financial Crisis is documented and interpreted. Without resorting to 1930s-style across-the-board tariff increases, governments have tilted the playing field in favor of local firms so often since November 2008 that 70% of the world’s goods exports competed against crisis-era trade distortions by 2013. Export mercantilism and other forms of selective subsidization are persistent features of crisis-era policy response. Available evidence also casts doubt on the notion that foreign direct investments have been treated as well as successive World Investment Reports contend.


Brazen Unilateralism: The US-China Tariff War in Perspective

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 29 Nov 2018

The polite fiction of G20 compliance with its protectionist pledge became untenable with the implementation of the Trump Administration’s America First policy. The ongoing Sino-US tariff war is a consequence and casts a pall over this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit. The meeting expected between Presidents Trump and Xi may indicate whether trade frictions deteriorate further. Rather than speculate this report puts the Sino-US tariff war in perspective, assessing the scale and impact of American brazen unilateralism. We matched up detailed data on trade policy changes worldwide with monthly trade data, drew upon insights from 17 recent analyses of contemporary trade wars, and extracted lessons for today’s trade turmoil from the 1980s and 1990s US approach of Aggressive Unilateralism towards its trading partners.


Going Spare: Steel, Excess Capacity, and Protectionism

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 03 May 2018

During the past year some of America’s trading partners have sought to rein in Washington’s unilateral protectionist instincts by framing the woes of the trading system in terms of global excess capacity—essentially diplomatic code for Chinese excess capacity in manufactures. The joint EU, Japanese, and US statement pledging cooperation on such matters at last December’s WTO Ministerial Conference was an important milestone in this co-option strategy. In light of the threatened imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium products on widely-derided national security grounds, this report examines whether America’s trading partners should double down on this particular strategy. To do so, we evaluate whether excess capacity in manufactured goods is a systemic threat to the world trading system.

The impact of crisis-era trade distortions on exports from the European Union

Europe Fettered

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 12 Dec 2017

Having grown in real terms by 60% between 2000 to 2008, extra-EU exports have since stagnated. Stripping out other determinants of EU export growth, the focus here is on the impact of trade distortions imposed by foreign governments since the global economic crisis began. Our econometric analysis implies that crisis-era trade distortions held back EU Member State export growth to destinations outside of the EU by between 10-20 percentage points between 2008 and 2014. We estimate that the EU export growth deficit compared to China (amounting to on average 35 percentage points from 2008 to 2014) would have been halved in the absence of foreign trade distortions.

The 21st Global Trade Alert Report

Will Awe Trump Rules?

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 04 Jul 2017

Not since the London Summit of in April 2009 has protectionism had such a high profile in the run-up to a G20 Leader’s Summit. President Trump’s America First policies have drawn sharp criticism from leaders of other G20 governments. Accusations and counter-accusations of unfair trading practices have become a regular occurrence. So as to shed light on competing claims, this Global Trade Alert report documents the actions taken by G20 governments through to the end of June 2017.

The 20th Global Trade Alert Report

FDI Recovers?

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 30 Aug 2016

As global trade continues to stagnate, the spotlight has shifted during China’s G20 Presidency to foreign direct investment (FDI).Two recent developments have brought FDI to the forefront of international policy deliberations. First, at their annual meeting in July 2016, G20 trade ministers endorsed nine G20 Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking. Second, in June 2016 UNCTAD published its flagship annual World Investment Report showing that FDI flows “soared” in 2015 to its highest level since the onset of the global economic crisis. This report – released in advance of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou, China – critically evaluates the recovery of FDI, the G20’s contribution to that recovery, the coherence of G20 trade and investment policymaking to date, and ultimately, the new G20 Guiding Principles.

The 19th Global Trade Alert Report

Global Trade Plateaus

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 13 Jul 2016

This report demonstrates that talk of a global trade slowdown is misplaced. Since January 2015 world trade volumes have plateaued, which is unusual as pauses in trade growth are typically associated with global recessions. A global trade plateau is a major source of concern as it is likely to add to the temptation of governments to engage in zero-sum commercial policies that seek to steal market share from foreign rivals.

The 18th Global Trade Alert Report

The Tide Turns? Trade, Protectionism, and Slowing Global Growth

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 12 Nov 2015

The G20’s principal task of reviving global economic growth has never been easy – it is harder now that world trade is contracting. World trade growth isn’t slowing down – the latest available monthly data compiled for this report suggests that it has been falling in volume and value terms through 2015. On average G20 exports have fallen 4.5% since world trade peaked in value in October 2014.

The 17th GTA report

BRICS Trade Strategy: Time for a Rethink

Simon J. Evenett | 07 Jul 2015

The term BRICS was coined by Jim O’Neill from Goldman Sachs over a decade ago. Unlike many acronyms, this one has stuck - largely because of the growing share of the world economy associated with the emerging economic powers Brazil, India, China, Russia and South Africa (the latter being added somewhat later.) With the greater global footprint, the policy choices of these countries matter more.

How Foreign Trade Distortions Slowed LDC Export-Led Growth

Throwing Sand In the Wheels

Simon J. Evenett & Johannes Fritz | 17 Jun 2015

This new eBook argues that least developed countries were hard hit by these barriers. Drawing on Global Trade Alert data, it argues that these barriers reduced these nations’ exports by 30% during the period 2009 to 2013 – over a quarter of a trillion US dollars in total.

The 16th Global Trade Alert Report

The Global Trade Disorder

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Nov 2014

Based on a massive data collection effort since the St. Petersburg G20 summit last September, in which a further 2,001 trade-related state initiatives have been documented, this report demonstrates that the resort to protectionism has been substantially higher than previously thought.

The 15th Global Trade Alert Report

Beggar-Thy-Poor-Neighbour: Crisis-Era Protectionism and Developing Countries

Simon J. Evenett | 22 Jul 2014

The most vulnerable trading Nations on Earth - the Least Developed Countries and Countries from Sub-Saharan Africa- have long been encouraged by Western donors, international development Organisations and economists to integrate their economies into world markets.This volume examines the extent to which such integration was frustrated by protectionism measures taking since the onset on Greta Recession.

The 14th Global Trade Alert Report

What Restraint? Five Years of G20 Pledges on Trade

Simon J. Evenett | 03 Sep 2013

For the past five years, leaders of the G20 countries have said they would not implement new trade restrictions, WTO-inconsistent export subsidies, or export taxes and quotas. They also promised to "roll back" any crisis-era protectionism that was imposed. Drawing upon nearly 3,800 separate reports of trade-related government measures collected and published by the Global Trade Alert team, this Report contains the most up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of adherence to the G20's "standstill" on protectionism. At a time when the World Trade Organization is in the doldrums, the performance of this non-binding alternative to intergovernmental cooperation on commercial policies takes on greater significance.

The 13th Global Trade Alert Report

Not Just Victims: Latin America and Crisis-Era Protectionism - The 13th GTA Report

Simon J. Evenett | 22 Jul 2013

The global economic crisis that began to unfold in 2007 hit Latin America hard, slowing down economic growth considerably. The 13th Report from Global Trade Alert shows that Latin America has not just been a victim of protectionism imposed by other parts of the world, as some policymakers and commentators assert.

The 12th Global Trade Alert Report

Protectionism's Quiet Return

Simon J. Evenett | 12 Jun 2013

Given that the current holder of this year’s G8 Presidency, the UK, has made combatting protectionism a priority, the 12th GTA report has been compiled and released just before the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, on 17-18 June 2013. Concerns about protectionism are not confined to the UK, however. In April 2013, when introducing reduced forecasts for world trade growth, the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Pascal Lamy, warned that the protectionist threat may be greater now than at any time since the onset of the global economic crisis. On the basis of the evidence presented here, Mr Lamy’s concerns were well founded.

The 11th Global Trade Alert Report


Simon J. Evenett | 14 Jun 2012

The 11th Global Trade Alert report on protectionism--assembled by an independent team of trade policy analysts from around the world--provides a detailed account of the resort to beggar-thy-neighbour policies from the first crisis-era G20 summit in November 2008 until May 2012.

The 10th Global Trade Alert Report

Trade Tensions Mount

Simon J. Evenett | 21 Nov 2011

The threats to an open trading system mounted in the second half of 2011 for several reasons.

The 9th Global Trade Alert Report

Resolve Falters As Global Prospects Worsen

Simon J. Evenett | 20 Jul 2011

In 2011 the world economy has been buffeted by a number of developments that were not foreseen at the time of the Seoul G20 Summit. These unanticipated, adverse macroeconomic developments now coincide with election cycles and political leadership transition cycles in a number of jurisdictions, increasing the risk that some political leaders will court short-term popularity by resorting to protectionism. Moreover, now that many governments are cutting government budgets and interest rates cannot fall much further in many countries, restricting foreign competition is one of the few tools available to policymakers when responding to pleas from domestic firms and trade unions. The sooner global economic growth recovers its previous pace the better. One welcome side effect would be taking the some of the wind out of the protectionist sails.

The 8th Global Trade Alert Report

Tensions Contained... For Now

Simon J. Evenett | 08 Nov 2010

Although the dispute over China's exchange rate regime intensified in the run-up to the Seoul G20 Summit, pressures for across-the-board protectionist measures have been contained, for now. The latest data on protectionism, summarised in this Report, show that the countries with large current account surpluses have not been targeted unduly in recent months.

The 7th Global Trade Alert Report

Managed Exports and the Recovery of World Trade

Simon J. Evenett | 16 Sep 2010

The Seventh Report of the Global Trade Alert, drawing upon over 1200 investigations of state measures, reveals that while 2010 has seen a substantial recovery in world trade, governments have continued to discriminate against foreign commercial interests. Moreover, recovery does not seem to have affected the rate at which governments resort to protectionist measures. One reaction to this finding is to argue that the discrimination cannot be that significant if world trade is recovering so quickly.

The 6th Global Trade Alert Report

Unequal Compliance

Simon J. Evenett | 23 Jun 2010

This Report of the Global Trade Alert, published to coincide with the Toronto G-20 Leaders' Summit in June 2010, presents a comprehensive global overview of protectionist trends since the last G-20 summit in September 2009. It draws upon a substantial expansion in the evidence collected by the GTA team during 2010 on the measures announced and implemented by governments since November 2008.

The 5th Global Trade Alert Report

Africa Resists the Protectionist Temptation

Simon J. Evenett | 27 May 2010

With the return to economic growth of many industrialised economies in either late 2009 or the first half of 2010, combined with sustained expansions in the emerging market economies, came the hope that protectionist pressures would ease in the world economy through 2010. If anything, the period since our last report was published in January 2010 has been one of the busiest for the Global Trade Alert team.

The 4th Global Trade Alert Report

Will Stabilisation Limit Protectionism?

Simon J. Evenett | 15 Feb 2010

After the tumult of the first half of 2009 many economies stabilised and some even began to recover in the last quarter of 2009. Using information compiled through to late January 2010, this the fourth report of the Global Trade Alert examines whether macroeconomic stabilisation has altered governments resort to protectionism.

The 3rd Global Trade Alert Report

The Unrelenting Pressure of Protectionism

Simon J. Evenett | 07 Dec 2009

At a time when more commentators are becoming cautiously optimistic about the prospects for 2010, this Report from Global Trade Alert presents the latest data on the protectionist dynamics at work since the first G20 crisis-related Summit in November 2008 and highlights the many anti-trade measures that are in the pipeline.

The 2nd Global Trade Alert Report

Broken Promises

Simon J. Evenett | 18 Sep 2009

The second GTA report, prepared by an independent group of researchers and analysts located around the globe, is based on over 400 investigations of state measures that have been implemented since the first crisis-related G20 meeting in November 2008.

The First GTA Report

Simon J. Evenett | 09 Jul 2009

Global Trade Alert, first launched on 8 June 2009, has been in operation for a month. Experts from every region of the world are now contributing to this initiative. However, rather than rush to judgement about the implications for foreign commercial interests of the state measures taken since the first crisis-related G20 meeting last November, this GTA report describes our findings to date and explains the procedures GTA follows. In doing so the GTA’s value-added and complementarity with existing monitoring initiatives will be established.