Economies across the world are facing an increasing economic burden caused by natural disasters and research predicts that these phenomena will grow in frequency and intensity.

International trade can play an important role in helping countries respond to and recover from natural disasters and build resilience against future disasters. Well-functioning and open markets underpinned by WTO rules can support governments in dealing with the after-effects.

Research on natural disasters and trade was commissioned by the WTO in 2018, funded by the Permanent Mission of Australia. A first symposium took place in April 2018, with three further events organized.

The objective of the research was to deepen analysis - including through country case studies — of the interplay between international trade and natural disasters. Special attention was placed on analysing the recovery of countries' trading capacity and infrastructure.

Ensuring that economic systems are robust enough to withstand natural disasters will help to deliver the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, an international agreement that seeks to build resilience in the face of an increasing burden of disasters.

The research resulted in two studies carried out by the WTO Secretariat and by Giovanna Adinolfi, Professor of International Law at the University of Milan, Italy.

Ms Adinolfi said: “With the number and economic burden of natural disasters growing, building appropriate legal frameworks consistent with known risks would help governments strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerabilities to such shocks. My analysis suggests that many tools are available for disaster-affected economies and their trading partners across WTO agreements, such as those covering trade in goods, trade in services and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.”

The studies can be accessed here.




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