The imposition of new trade restrictions by G-20 economies has continued to slow this year while new measures to facilitate trade have remained steady, a new report has found.

World Trade Organization's (WTO) 18th monitoring report on G-20 trade measures shows G-20 economies introduced fewer trade-restrictive measures from mid-May to mid-October 2017, compared to the previous year. This includes new or increased tariffs, export restrictions, and local content measures.

A total of 16 new trade-restrictive measures were adopted by G-20 economies, representing an average of just over three per month compared to six in the prior year period. The estimated trade coverage of these measures fell from US$47bn to $32bn. The WTO put the decline in trade-restrictive measures down to some G-20 economies opting to implement less traditional and transparent measures to curtail trade, possible difficulties by the WTO in gaining access to the relevant information, and/or G-20 economies implementing fewer such measures.

The initiation of trade remedy investigations represented more than 50% of trade measures recorded, and new anti-dumping investigations accounted for nearly 80% of all such initiations. The ratio of initiations (19) to terminations (6) was the highest since 2012, but there were declines in both categories. The trade coverage of initiations was estimated at $29bn compared to $1bn for terminations.

G-20 economies also implemented 28 new measures aimed at facilitating trade, such as the elimination or reduction of tariffs and the simplification of customs procedures. The average of six such measures per month was unchanged from the previous review period but the estimated trade coverage of trade-facilitating measures fell sharply from $163bn to $27bn. The WTO says this comparatively low figure may reflect that the review period did not see measures on high-value or highly-traded goods like those recorded in the previous report.

"G20 members have shown restraint in implementing trade-restrictive measures, despite continuing economic uncertainties," the WTO said in the report. "This is positive news and it shows again that the global trading system is working. Nevertheless, the threat of protectionism remains and so I urge G20 countries to redouble their efforts to avoid implementing new trade restrictions and to reverse those measures that are currently in place."