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Economic and political openness has brought about unparalleled growth and development over the last 60 years, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. Protectionism poses risks both to national economies and our potential to face global issues.

There is no better example of the benefits of openness than our multilateral trading system, which has helped improve the standard of living of billions of people worldwide by creating new economic opportunities and providing greater choice and lower prices to consumers.

The 2008 global financial crisis dealt a sharp blow to our international economic system, however, which has led many to question the fundamental benefits of openness.

Today, evidence points to an unremitting trend of continued protectionism since the outbreak of the crisis. A December 2016 report from the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows that, of the 2,978 trade-restrictive measures put in place by WTO members since 2008, only 740 had been removed.

Nevertheless, governments repeatedly maintain their commitment to open economies and international cooperation at G20 meetings and the WTO’s landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement – the first multilateral trade deal in over 20 years – entered into force in early 2017.

To further understand the extent to which governments are following through on their commitments to create genuinely open economies, ICC developed the Open Markets Index (OMI) to generate a balanced and reliable measurement of a country’s openness to trade. The OMI, produced in collaboration with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is aimed at helping governments take action and shape trade policies that contribute to economic growth and job creation.

Governments with better information on how their markets perform – both on key indicators and relative to other countries – are better able to honour commitments to open trade, implement necessary changes, and resist regressive measures to ‘protect’ domestic industries and jobs.