This is 2017 Spring Meeting of World Bank and IMF and I am not sure if "improve" has a negative meaning here. When I search for improve on dictionaries, they say "to become better", but in this context, it seems like a negative meaning because it says the number of violations has gone from a little over 2 percent to 6.5 percent of noncompliance with the trade commetments (so the percentage has increased). Please help me.

On trade, when I say that there is room to improve, you are talking to a former Secretary of Trade for France and I have been looking very carefully at the reports of the WTO. When you see that the number of violations, number of cases is steadily improving and has gone from a little over 2 percent to 6.5 percent of noncompliance with the trade commitments by the G20 countries alone between 2015 and 2016, when you see that there have been about 3,000 [new restrictive rules] since 2008, there is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. There is a Dispute Settlement System that exists which has been used extensively by many partners, including the United States, the European Union and China, but it is clearly an area where there is room for improvement.

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    It feels like a mistake. They probably meant "increasing", since they subsequently say that it went from 2 percent to 6.5 percent. The whole passage is quite hard to follow, and it looks like an illustration of how unedited speech, reproduced verbatim, tends to look like a badly written bit of text. Feb 26, 2018 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


The passage is indeed poorly expressed and confusing. However, there is a fair explanation of the strange idea that an increase in the number of cases represents improvement.

First, there is no perfect way of counting the number of regulatory violations. You can only count the number of transactions, the times violations have been noted by the authorities, and the number of such cases have resulted in ‘conviction’ and the imposition of some sanction.

If, for example, the percentage of transactions in which a case for violation has been successfully been brought increases, it could mean that more violations are taking place and so the effectiveness of regulation is getting worse. But it could also mean that the regulatory authorities are getting better at detecting and dealing with violation. This would be even more so if the number of regulations has substantially increased, so that there are more opportunities for violation.

That’s the best I can do.

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