discussed the trade-policy consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and conclusions for the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the EU Trade Ministers in another video conference today. The Trade Ministers agreed that a multilateral trade organisation such as the WTO is more important than ever – especially in times of crisis.
Federal Minister Altmaier said: “The crisis shows us the vulnerability of global supply chains, for example in the field of medical protective equipment. Therefore we need to give enterprises the opportunity to expand and diversify their trade and supply chains, that is to build them on several pillars. This is how we can contribute to making supply chains more resilient. This requires a strong WTO. For this purpose, we need to improve the organisation’s ability to act.”
According to the Trade Ministers, this includes initiatives that have already been taken, such as improving the transparency for trade-restricting and state aid measures. In the medium and long term, however, the reform agenda for the WTO also needs to be pressed ahead with, e.g. to set up rules on digital trade or to fully restore a functioning WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
The Trade Ministers added that the crisis also reminds us of the importance of digital trade. There was agreement that the recovery after the crisis has to be sustainable. The upswing after the crisis must continue to go hand in hand with ambitious global environment protection and occupational safety standards. The European Commission announced that it will review its trade strategy – especially in the light of the COVID-19 crisis – by the end of this year.