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Accra, Jan. 25, GNA – The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 2012 World Trade Report goes beyond tariffs to examine other policy measures that can affect trade.

The report which was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, said as tariffs had fallen in the years since the birth of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1948, attention had progressively shifted towards non-tariff measures (NTMs).

It said the range of NTMs was vast, complex, driven by multiple policy motives, and ever-changing, hence public policy objectives underlying it had also evolved.

The report said the drivers of change were many, including greater interdependence in a globalizing world, increased social awareness, and growing concerns regarding health, safety, and environmental quality.

It said many of those factors called for a deepening of integration, wresting attention away from more traditional and shallower forms of cooperation, adding that trade in services was a part of this development and had come under greater scrutiny, along with the policies that influenced services trade.

It said the continuing multiplication of policy directions and preoccupations presented challenges for international cooperation, and that regulatory measures such as technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary  measures in goods and domestic regulation in services raised new and pressing challenges for international cooperation in the 21st century although they also posed acute transparency issues.

“Their trade effects may be incidental, but they can also be designed and applied in a manner that unnecessarily frustrates trade. Moreover, they raise a number of issues that are specific to governments and firms in developing countries”, the report said.

“The sheer breadth of the subject area has meant that the focus of this report is on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary  measures and domestic regulation in services”, it added.

It examines the reasons why governments use NTMs and services measures and the extent to which public policy interventions may also distort international trade. The phenomenon of offshoring and the cross effects of services measures on goods trade are also considered.

The report further analyses choices among alternative policy instruments from a theoretical and empirical perspective, whiles also presenting case studies on the use of NTMs in particular contexts. These include the recent financial crisis, climate change policy and food safety concerns.

The case studies consider how far measures adopted may pose a challenge for international trade.

The GATT/WTO has addressed some of the challenges created by NTMs, both through its dispute settlement mechanism and successive rounds of GATT/WTO negotiations.

The Tokyo and Uruguay rounds, in particular, focused on a number of NTMs, including standards, which were progressively subject to heightened multilateral discipline.

The Uruguay Round also marked the inclusion of services in the WTO.

GNA

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