DIRECTOR-GENERAL

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“This global challenge requires a global response, on the public health front and in the economy,” said Director-General Azevêdo. “It is only by working together that we will find solutions.”

On 16 March, G7 leaders agreed to support global trade and investment and do “whatever is necessary to ensure a strong global response through closer co-operation and enhanced co-ordination.”

“Rarely, if ever, has the world economy seen supply and demand shocks so sudden, so widespread, and so deep,” said the Director-General. “This is inevitably causing major disruptions to trade, as will be visible in our trade forecast for this year, which we are set to release in a few weeks.”

“The top priority now must be to protect the health and safety of people at risk from COVID-19,” Director-General Azevêdo added, heartened by governments' moves to introduce fiscal and monetary measures to prevent social lockdown from leading to large-scale business failure and job losses.​

“Alongside these measures, maintaining open trade and investment flows will be critical to protect jobs, prevent supply chain breakdown, and ensure that vital products do not become unaffordable for consumers,” he said. “And once recovery begins to take hold, trade will play a central role in returning economies to full speed. By allowing countries to tap into each other’s growth as it picks up, our economies will recover more quickly than if we try to act alone.”

DG Azevêdo commended the G7 statement for its emphasis on cooperation to fight the virus, from data-sharing and access to medical equipment to efforts to develop potential treatments and a vaccine. He was encouraged by the G7 pledge to “address disturbances to international supply chains and continue our work to facilitate international trade.” DG Azevêdo said that the WTO would do its part to support this work.

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