“Trade must be at the heart of efforts to recover from the crisis. Managed well, it can lift growth and living standards in the developing world and help build a greener, smarter, fairer world” said Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was joined by five heads of international organizations, and all of them stressed the need to keep global trade flows open to ensure that developing and least-developed countries have access to essential medical goods to control the spread of COVID-19 and are able to use trade to drive sustainable economic recovery.
They were taking part in a high-level plenary session held virtually on the Aid for Trade Stocktaking Event last week. During the session they provided an overview of global trade flows, pointing to a broad recovery of goods trade driven by medical products. They noted that the services trade was also rising but at a slower pace.
They underlined the important role that global cooperation has played in maintaining the flow of goods and food and called for keeping export restraints in check. An inclusive, robust and green economic recovery will require open markets and continued mobilizing of trade financing to help developing countries and LDCs build resilience to future shocks and alleviate extreme poverty.
Through initiatives such as Aid for Trade, the global community can help address these countries’ trade needs so that they may play a more active role in global trade and meet their development objectives, the speakers said.
Promoting and facilitating investment, investing in health systems, implementing trade facilitation measures and addressing debt and balance of payments issues featured among the strategies cited.
“Today the pandemic is reversing hard-won development gains, adding to the problems facing the most vulnerable,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said. “The post-COVID recovery must not leave anyone, or any country, behind. The first step towards this goal must be a rapid, global vaccine roll-out that ends the pandemic. We need more trade cooperation to address supply bottlenecks, lower regulatory hurdles, facilitate trade, and finance vaccine purchases.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said “The pandemic is a devastating demonstration that health and the economy are integrated and inter-dependent. When health is at risk, everything is at risk. But when health is protected and promoted, individuals, families, communities, economies and nations can flourish.
“As countries formulate policies for recovery, they have a chance to embark on a green, resilient and inclusive development path, setting a foundation for robust growth and development in the longer run. To build back better, we need more trade. The World Bank’s President, David Malpass, said:
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, said: “What the pandemic made clear to us is that we must ensure that trade and investment provide maximum development footprint in partner countries. The ultimate shock of the COVID-19 crisis will be poverty. And programmes like Aid for Trade are essential to build forward better.
The Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Isabelle Durant, said: “To ensure access to critical goods, we need to keep goods flowing across borders. And we need trade because it is a powerful engine for job and income creation, and it is a critical source for foreign exchange.
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