WTO, WCO chiefs pledge joint efforts to facilitate trade in essential goods

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[FILES] WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. PHOTO: YouTube

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Customs Organization (WCO) have tasked world leaders to minimize disruption to cross-border trade in goods — in particular those essential to combat the COVID-19 pandemic — while safeguarding public health.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya said the two organizations would work closely together to minimize disruption to cross-border trade in goods.

They also pledged to establish a coordinated approach to support initiatives that facilitate cross-border trade so that essential goods can quickly reach those most in need, including in least developed and land-locked countries.

WTO and WCO members have already been invited to increase transparency by sharing information on new trade and trade-related measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and governments consider new measures to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, we urge Members to ensure that any new border action is targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory,” they declared.

The COVID-19 pandemic, while above all a public health crisis, presents the world with unprecedented social and economic challenges. Emergency measures needed to curb the spread of the disease have unintended impacts on the world economy and trade, including the global supply chains that produce and distribute essential goods such as medical supplies, food, and energy.

“Within our respective mandates, we have already invited Members to increase transparency by sharing information on new trade and trade-related measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent appropriate, we are making such information publicly available through our respective websites.

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“We are also willing to establish a coordinated approach in support of initiatives that facilitate cross-border trade in goods, in particular those key to combat COVID-19. This would allow that essential goods can quickly reach those most in need, including in least developed and land-locked countries.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and governments consider new measures to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, we urge Members to ensure that any new border action is targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory — as agreed by G20 leaders.

“We stress that these measures should be temporary, and we encourage Members to rescind them once they are no longer needed, especially if they restrict trade. We welcome initiatives to facilitate and simplify cross-border procedures and urge our Members to prioritize those for exporting and importing essential goods”, they added.

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The Guardian

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