In a joint effort to minimize supply chain disruption of medical supplies, food, and energy during the current global COVID-19 pandemic, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are pledging to work together during this crisis. Increasing cross-border traffic of essential goods has pushed the World Health Organization (WHO) to point out trade and customs restrictions that can hinder the flow of these goods, which can ultimately lead to negative social and economic effects. The WCO and WTO have established coordinated approaches to facilitate cross-border trade so these goods and aid can quickly reach those most in need while safeguarding public health.
The WCO and WTO have published on their respective websites transparent trade and trade-related measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In their joint statement from April 6, 2020, both organizations urged their members to ensure any new border action is “targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory - as agreed by G20 leaders.” WTO rules provide governments with the flexibility they may need to address essential medical supply shortages and/or public health challenges. These rules along with the WHO’s International Health Regulations help governments avoid supply chain interference as well as negative impacts on the least developed countries that heavily rely on imports of medicines and medical equipment.
“As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to further explore ways to coordinate the efforts of the two organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at keeping trade flows open for the safety of populations around the world and a strong recovery of the global economy,” they declared.
To read the statement in full, please click here.
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