The Secretariat note points out that detailed trade data for these products are currently not available because the information captured at the time of importation is not sufficiently detailed. The two main problems are lack of detail at the six-digit Harmonized System (HS) tariff level and lack of standardization in national tariff subcategories beyond the standardized HS categories.

Relying on HS six-digit codes is likely to grossly overestimate the trade covered by products essential to combat COVID-19, and this could lead to inaccurate conclusions, the Secretariat said.  Because it limits the extent to which trade in critical products can be accurately measured and analysed, these data gaps make it harder for governments to make targeted trade policy responses in their efforts to combat COVID-19.

The Secretariat note says that prompt and decisive action by governments and the public sector can help to remedy the information gaps and explores possible actions that could be taken in the short and medium term to address the problem, including the possibility of establishing public-private partnerships to collect the relevant data.  

The Secretariat information note, “Improving trade data for products essential to fight covid-19: a possible way forward,” can be found here.




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