“We are concerned by supply disruptions from the growing use of export restrictions and other actions that limit trade of key medical supplies and food,” the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization said in a joint statement.
(Xinhua) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday urged countries to refrain from imposing export and other trade restrictions as the world fights against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are concerned by supply disruptions from the growing use of export restrictions and other actions that limit trade of key medical supplies and food,” the IMF and the WTO said in a joint statement, warning export restrictions can be “dangerously counterproductive” if taken collectively.
“Such measures disrupt supply chains, depress production, and misdirect scarce, critical products and workers away from where they are most needed,” the two international institutions said, adding 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.
In addition to restrictions on medical goods, curbs on some food items are starting to appear, despite strong supply, they noted, calling for more attention to the role of open trade policies in defeating the virus, restoring jobs and reinvigorating economic growth.
“We 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,” they said, adding the WTO and the G20 offer two forums for global policy coordination on these important matters.
Citing the experience in the global financial crisis, they said global economic leaders in 2008 jointly committed to refraining for a year from new import, export and investment restrictions, which helped to avoid widespread trade restrictions that would have worsened the crisis and delayed recovery.
“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,” they said.
The joint statement came after the IMF said last week that the global economy is on track to contract sharply by 3 percent in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s.