The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has noted that global trade outlook has improved over the past few months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The WTO said the pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the global economy and to world trade.
Global economic output is set to shrink by 4.4% in 2020 – the worst drop since 1945. And while the outlook for trade has improved over the past few months, “our economists estimate that the volume of global merchandise trade will still shrink by 9% – the same as in 2009 at the depths of the financial crisis. As of the second quarter, global services trade was down 30% year-on-year.”
It added “To recover from this downturn, we will need trade more than ever. Closing markets to trade would provoke new supply shocks, and pass up on the productivity gains that come with increased competition and specialization.”
The WTO further stated that yet even before the pandemic, trade was slowing down, and global trade policymaking was faltering.
The current crisis presents an opportunity to reform, renew and strengthen the trading system, so that it can better contribute to a strong and inclusive recovery.
“The months between now and our Twelfth Ministerial Conference next year will demonstrate whether we are seizing this opportunity – or whether we are falling short.
In the multilateral negotiations, the first order of business is to conclude an agreement on addressing harmful fisheries subsidies by the year-end target date.
“Members have accelerated their discussions based on a single consolidated draft, with a revised text circulated earlier this month. But much remains to be done. Members will need to be pragmatic and focused, with greater engagement and compromise at the political level.
“Other ongoing multilateral issues include agriculture and development. Although some members see an outcome on trade-distorting agricultural support as a key priority for MC12, others consider transparency to be more achievable.