WTO, IMF call on countries to remove recent trade restrictions

Apr 24, 2020 (LBO) – The World Trade Organization (WTO) and The International Monetary Fund (IMF) call on governments to refrain from imposing or intensifying export and other trade restrictions and to work to promptly remove those put in place since the start of the year.

Releasing a joint statement on trade and the COVID-19 response, WTO and IMF said that they are concerned about supply disruptions from the growing use of export restrictions and other actions that limit trade of key medical supplies and food.

“Taken collectively, export restrictions can be dangerously counterproductive. What makes sense in an isolated emergency can be severely damaging in a global crisis,” the statement said.

Such measures disrupt supply chains, depress production, and misdirect scarce, critical products and workers away from where they are most needed. Other governments counter with their own restrictions.

“The result is to prolong and exacerbate the health and economic crisis—with the most serious effects likely on the poorer and more vulnerable countries.”

Amid the unfolding global financial crisis, global economic leaders in 2008 jointly committed to refrain for a year from new import, export, and investment restrictions, the statement reminded.

“This pledge helped to avoid widespread trade restrictions that would have worsened the crisis and delayed recovery,” the statement said.

“History has taught us that keeping markets open helps everyone – especially the world’s poorest people. Let’s act on the lessons we have learned.”


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