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Sustainable trade

The costs of export restrictions to the global economy

Published 19 September 2023

In the last decade, especially since 2020, there has been a rise in the use of export restrictions by nations. These restrictions include outright bans on specific exports to export taxes or quotas on exports. Although not new, export restrictions are one of the most damaging developments in global trade with lasting effects on the global economy.

Perhaps the most damaging development in trade today is the growing propensity of governments to slow, or even stop, the flow of exports. From 2015 to 2019, the average number of export restrictions applied by World Trade Organization (WTO) members each year was just under 24. Since 2020, the annual average has more than tripled to 77.6 per year.

Hinrich Foundation Senior Research Fellow Keith Rockwell argues that the rationale for these restrictions differs among economies, and the likelihood that they will succeed is very much open to doubt. He asserts that the policy consequences of these measures extend far beyond a rupture of supply chains and relations between commercial partners.

Read his latest paper here.

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Keith M. Rockwell is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation. Prior to his retirement in June 2022, Keith served as a Director at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and spokesperson for the organization for more than 25 years. He also is Global Fellow at the Wilson Center.

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