trade topics

COVID-19 and world trade

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented disruption to the global economy and world trade, as production and consumption are scaled back across the globe.

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Maintaining open trade

The free movement of goods and services is our strongest, and frankly, our only asset to ensure supplies can go to where they are needed most.  ... It is why we are calling for priority ‘green lanes’ for essential freight transport. These will ensure that crossing the border takes no more than 15 minutes. And they will help ensure that goods and supplies can go where they are needed and we can all avoid shortages.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
26 March 2020

The international trade system functions well in normal times. Now we have to think about how we can make sure the world trade system can better handle crises like this. We will inevitably have a discussion on strategic sectors and strategic stocks, but we also need a discussion on how to uphold trade in times of crisis.

“When all this is done, we will have a discussion on globalization. There are negative effects of globalization, but this also shows that we’re all in this together. The answer to the questions that are raised should not be a plea for less globalization. We have everything to lose if we roll back globalization.

Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s deputy prime minister and finance minister
25 March 2020

In order to facilitate international trade we advocate a simultaneous agreement between the G20 states on a crisis moratorium for new tariffs — on all goods. Also, the pending WTO moratorium on electronic data transfers should be extended and global rules for non-discriminatory digital trade agreed.

Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce
25 March 2020

Procurement in health systems is one of the activities most hard-hit by corruption. With medicine and medical supplies shortages being reported there will be an additional strain on procurement. It’s estimated that 10-25% of all money spent in procurement globally is lost to corruption and in the EU 28% of health corruption cases are related specifically to procurement of medical equipment. With the increased demand for medicines and equipment there’s the potential increased risk of collusion and that suppliers might demand higher prices knowing that governments have no other option but to pay. Having open and transparent contracting processes would allow red flags of corruption to be more easily spotted, leaving corrupt actors less space to hide and ensure governments are being charged reasonable prices so they can provide the best care possible to patients.

Natalie Rhodes, Transparency International
13 March

One of the most effective means of addressing this crisis is through timely, accurate information. An informed public is better positioned to make sound decisions including on questions related to trade. This is why we have created this dedicated page on the WTO website. It will provide up-to-the minute trade-related information including relevant notifications by WTO members, the impact the virus has had on exports and imports and how WTO activities have been affected by the pandemic.

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Azevêdo sees sharp fall in trade, calls for global solutions to COVID-19 crisis

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Frequently asked questions: The WTO and COVID-19

COVID-19: Trade and trade-related measures (as of 29 March 2020)

WTO members' notifications on COVID-19

Date Member Description of measure Type of notification
30/03/2020 Thailand Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, temporary export prohibitions were adopted with the aim to prevent the critical shortage of food stuffs (G/AG/N/THA/107) ER
30/03/2020 Thailand Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, temporary export prohibitions were adopted with the aim to prevent the critical shortage of food stuffs (G/MA/QR/N/THA/2/Add.2) QR
27/03/2020 Albania Temporary prohibition of exports of drugs and medical devices taken to protect human health and prevent relieve critical shortage of essential products in the emergency situation due to the COVID-19.(G/MA/QR/N/ALB/1/Add.1) QR
26/03/2020 Brazil Establishes exceptional and temporary criteria and procedure for the processing of petitions for the market authorization of medicines, biological products, and in vitro diagnosis products; and for the post-market authorization of medicines and biological products due to the international public health emergency of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). (G/TBT/N/BRA/990) TBT
26/03/2020 Brazil Establishes exceptional criteria and procedure for the manufacturing and sale of antiseptic preparations and sanitizers without previous market authorization from Anvisa and provides other measures due to the international public health emergency related to the SARS-CoV-2. (G/TBT/N/BRA/989) TBT
26/03/2020 Brazil Establishes extraordinary and temporary criteria and procedure for the handling of petitions for the market authorization of individual protection equipment, lung ventilator equipment, and another medical devices identified as strategic by Anvisa, due to the international public health emergency of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). (G/TBT/N/BRA/988) TBT
24/03/2020 Kyrgyz Republic Export prohibition to supply the Kyrgyz Republic population with strategic food stuffs and other products (G/MA/QR/N/KGZ/1/Add.1) QR
23/03/2020 Mauritius Temporarily restricts imports of live animals, including fish from People's Republic of China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Switzerland, Reunion Island and European Union Countries (G/SPS/N/MUS/18) SPS
20/03/2020 Indonesia Requiring any importation and/or movement of mammals and pets from Hong Kong, China be accompanied with Laboratory test result for COVID-19 (G/SPS/N/IDN/132) SPS
18/03/2020 Brazil Establishes extraordinary and temporary criteria and procedure for Good Manufacture Practice Guidelines for market authorization and post-market registration amendments of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, medicines, and healthcare products due to the international public health emergency of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). (G/TBT/N/BRA/984) TBT
16/03/2020 Brazil Approves extraordinary conditions for execution of conformity assessment activities in countries affected by COVID-19 (G/TBT/N/BRA/978) TBT
28/02/2020 Kazakhstan Temporarily restricts import and transit of live fish and fish products from China (G/SPS/N/KAZ/59) SPS
03/02/2020 Russian Federation Temporarily restricts import of exotic and decorative animals, including insects, arthropods, amphibians, reptiles and other, live fish and hydrobionts from China (G/SPS/N/RUS/178) SPS

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WTO TRADE BAROMETERS

The WTO has developed a set of indicators to provide “real-time” information on trends in world trade: the Goods Trade Barometer and the Services Trade Barometer. Both barometers highlight turning points in world trade and are intended to complement conventional trade statistics and forecasts.

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