WTO issues report on measures to expedite access to COVID-19 critical goods, services

The WTO Secretariat has published a new information note on how WTO members have used trade measures to expedite access to critical medical goods and services as part of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The note states that trade has played a role in improving access to COVID-19 critical medical goods and services since the start of the pandemic. The shortages of medical personal protective equipment encountered around the world in the early phase of the pandemic have eased, as production and trade have expanded to meet the unparalleled demand spike. Initial data for 41 countries indicates trade in medical goods grew by 38.7 per cent in the first half of 2020, the Secretariat said, although sourcing of certain products remains a challenge for some developing countries.

In addition, the note describes a wide range of trade-related measures members have employed, from temporary reductions or deferrals of duties, taxes and charges on COVID-19 critical medical supplies to simplified customs procedures and border clearance. It looks at intellectual property-related measures members have used to facilitate innovation in, and access to, COVID-19 related technologies, such as the use of compulsory or government-use licenses, efforts to foster access to relevant patent databases, and steps to make it easier to exchange clinical trial data. 

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