G20 trade ministers meet by video to tackle coronavirus disruptions

G20 trade ministers meet by video to tackle coronavirus disruptions
# 31 March 2020 02:31 (UTC +04:00)

Trade ministers from the Group of 20 major economies agreed on Monday to keep their markets open and ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment and other essential goods as the world battles the deadly coronavirus pandemic, APA reports citing Reuters.

G20 leaders pledged last week to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses caused by border closures and sweeping shutdowns aimed at halting the spread of the disease.

In a joint statement issued after a videoconference, the ministers pledged to take “immediate necessary measures” to facilitate trade in essential goods and incentivize additional production of equipment and drugs.

They said they agreed that all emergency measures should be “targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary,” consistent with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and not creating “unnecessary barriers” to trade.

They also vowed to work to prevent profiteering and unjustified price increases, and keep supplies flowing on an affordable and equitable basis.

“The pandemic is a global challenge and requires a coordinated global response,” the ministers said. “As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open.”

The ministers emphasized the importance of transparency, and agreed to notify the WTO about any trade-related measures taken to keep global supply chains running. They said they would convene again as necessary.

However, they stopped short of explicitly calling for an end to export bans that many countries, including G20 members France, Germany and India, have enacted on drugs and medical supplies. The statement included the phrase “consistent with national requirements” already used by G20 leaders, which experts say provides a loophole for protectionist barriers.