The unparalleled demand spike for medical equipment in the first half of 2020 led to a 38.7% increase in trade in medical goods based on data for 41 countries, according to a new information note just published by the World Trade Organization.
In addition, members employed a wide range of trade-related measures - from temporary reductions or deferrals of duties, taxes and charges on Covid-19 critical medical supplies, to simplified customs procedures and border clearance.
Certain products, they point out, remain subject to periodic shortages, with sourcing a particular challenge for some developing countries.
Transparency and trade facilitation are a recurring theme in the report which points out that members are sharing information about their Covid-19 trade measures as notifications and for inclusion in WTO trade monitoring reports, while duties, taxes and charges on critical medical goods and other essential supplies have been temporarily removed or deferred by 40 WTO members, including 12 G20 members.
These actions help reduce the cost of the goods needed to fight the pandemic, both for the health sector and for the general public. Measures to reduce or eliminate import tariffs made up around two-thirds of the import trade-facilitating measures reported to the WTO, according to the report
Cutting red tape, expediting regulatory assessments, and expedited procurement procedures, including limited tendering and expedited payments for contractors, are among the government procurement actions notified by some members.