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Trade and geopolitics

Overview of developments in the international trading environment

Published 09 March 2021 | 1 minute read

The report reflects the impact the global health crisis has had on trade and trade policy.

The report notes that COVID-19 related trade-facilitating measures implemented since the beginning of the pandemic covered an estimated US$227 billion of goods trade, while COVID-19 trade-restrictive measures covered trade worth US$180 billion.

Over 1,000 support measures in direct response to the pandemic were put in place up to mid-October and were collectively worth several trillion US dollars. The report indicates that the number and variety of support measures implemented in response to the economic and social turmoil caused by COVID-19 is greater than that witnessed during the 2008-09 global financial crisis. WTO Secretariat estimates indicate that by the end of 2019 the cumulative trade coverage of import restrictions on goods implemented by WTO members and observers since 2009 and still in force affected 8.7 per cent of world imports (US$1.6 trillion out of a total US$18.9 trillion). WTO estimates for 2020 suggest that the stockpile of import restrictions continues to grow and that the roll-back of restrictions is minimal.

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

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