World trade figures stood at just 2% in 2008, demonstrating a sharp downturn in the global economy compared with 6% growth in 2007.

WTO director-general Pascal Lamy has warned of the dangers of raising trade barriers, saying it would hinder recovery efforts. “Many thousands of trade-related jobs are being lost. Governments must avoid making this bad situation worse by reverting to protectionist measures,” he said.

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The trade slump has been exacerbated by the fact all regions of the world are in recession, the WTO said. The scarcity of trade finance and growing protectionism are also factors.