The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global value chains in the production of goods and services, in particular for essential medical supplies. Domestic lockdowns, closed borders and export restrictions created additional complicating factors for producers. Yet, well-functioning value chains and trade flows are key elements to support efforts to effectively curb the pandemic, as they ensure that medical supplies can move quickly where they are most needed. Drawing lessons from this paradox, this session explores what coordinated policy responses and measures can be taken within the framework of the WTO to better secure trade flows in future health crises.
As the pandemic continues to spread, ensuring open trade flows of essential health technologies and products is key, especially for vulnerable economies. Policy has a key role to play in maintaining these flows, and this session will examine several initiatives adopted to facilitate trade during the pandemic, and explore additional measures that can support positive outcomes in the future.
Issues addressed will include transparency and monitoring, trade facilitation measures such as digital solutions and the establishment of “green lanes” to support the movement of essential goods across borders as smoothly as possible, temporary suspension of customs duties on selected goods, as well as increased cooperation in order to avoid a resort to export restrictions.
- How can policy makers guarantee that supply chains remain open and protect trade flows from disruptions caused by health crises, in order to avoid shortages of essential goods?
- What efforts are undertaken by the private sector to make supply chains more resilient in times of emergency and how can trade policy contribute to these efforts?
- How to make sure that trade restrictive measures taken by Members in response to a health crisis remain targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, and do not generate unnecessary barriers to trade and supply chains disruptions?
- What new disciplines could be adopted to avoid similar disruptions in the future?
- How can trade rules incentivize WTO Members to cooperate in their policy reactions when that next emergency is declared?.
In the second portion of the session, the floor will open for a moderated audience discussion guided by the question:
How can trade rules best support the response to COVID-19 and increase resilience for future pandemics?
Continue the conversation in the dedicated chat on the Beyond Trade Network.
This session will be simultaneously translated into French, Spanish and English (when needed) via the Interactio application, by entering the code GTW2020 (please use headphones). Open the application in your Web browser or download it for iOS Mobile App or for Android App.