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G20 Trade Ministers Pledge Focus on Free, Fair Trade in Virus Response

G20 Trade Ministers Pledge Focus on Free, Fair Trade in Virus Response

Tuesday, 31 March, 2020 - 10:15
This photo of a television screen taken and handout by the press office of Palazzo Chigi on March 26, 2020 shows the G20 video conference. (AFP)
Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat

Trade ministers from the Group of 20 major economies agreed on Monday to keep their markets open and ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment, and other essential goods as the world battles the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

G20 leaders pledged last week to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses caused by border closures and sweeping shutdowns aimed at halting the spread of the disease.

The G20 Trade and Investment ministers' extraordinary meeting under Saudi Arabia Presidency pledged to take “immediate necessary measures” to facilitate trade in essential goods and incentivize additional production of equipment and drugs, according to a joint statement issued after a videoconference.

"The pandemic is a global challenge and requires a coordinated global response,” the ministerial statement said.

“Now more than ever is the time for the international community to step up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth after this crisis,” it added.

The ministers also said they had started monitoring and assessing the impact of the pandemic on trade as per the task entrusted to them by G20 leaders.

“We are actively working to ensure the continued flow of vital medical supplies and equipment, critical agricultural products, and other essential goods and services across borders, for supporting the health of our citizens. Consistent with national requirements, we will take immediate necessary measures to facilitate trade in those essential goods,” the statement added.

“We will support the availability and accessibility of essential medical supplies and pharmaceuticals at affordable prices, on an equitable basis, where they are most needed, and as quickly as possible, including by encouraging additional production through incentives and targeted investment, according to national circumstances. We will guard against profiteering and unjustified price increases,” the ministers said.

“We will ensure our collective response is supportive of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and recognize the importance of strengthening international investment,” according to the ministerial statement.

They emphasized, “The importance of transparency in the current environment and our commitment to notify the WTO of any trade-related measures taken, all of which will enable global supply chains to continue to function in this crisis, while expediting the recovery that will follow."

“As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non- discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” the statement added.

They went on saying, “We will ensure smooth and continued operation of the logistics networks that serve as the backbone of global supply chains. We will explore ways for logistics networks via air, sea and land freight to remain open, as well as ways to facilitate essential movement of health personnel and businesspeople across borders, without undermining the efforts to prevent the spread of the virus."

“We will continue monitoring and assessing the impact of the pandemic on trade. We call on the international organizations to provide an in-depth analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on world trade, investment, and global value chains.

We will continue working with them to establish coordinated approaches and collect and share good practices to facilitate flows of essential goods and services," the statement added.

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