Global trade has so far avoided a serious increase in protectionism, but should remain watchful as "friction" increases, WTO director-general Pascal Lamy has warned.

In his most recent report on G-20 trade measures, Lamy said there had been a slowdown in the imposition of new trade restrictions by G-20 economies over the past five months.

But he added that many measures remained in place from the outbreak of the economic crisis and said: “G-20 governments need to redouble their efforts to keep their markets open, and to advance trade opening as a way to counter slowing global economic growth.

“Trade restrictions and inward-looking policies will only aggravate global problems and risk generating tit-for-tat reactions.”

Lamy agreed that the ongoing crisis put pressure on governments to raise trade barriers, but said: “This is not the time to succumb to these pressures.”

He said that trade frictions “seem to be increasing”, reflected by trade remedy and dispute settlement cases under the WTO, as well as decisions affecting foreign investment and participation in infrastructure-related government procurement programmes.