The World Trade Organization (WTO) has set up a dedicated webpage to help governments, business, the media and the public track the latest information on trade-related responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Available at www.wto.org, the webpage will provide up-to-the-minute information, including relevant notifications by WTO members, the impact the virus has had on exports and imports and how WTO activities have been affected by the pandemic.

“One of the most effective means of addressing this crisis is through timely, accurate information,” the WTO explained. “An informed public is better positioned to make sound decisions including on questions related to trade.”

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo recently noted that the COVID-19 crisis had caused dramatic supply and demand shocks in the world economy, and that these shocks are inevitably causing major disruptions to trade.

Because of the rapidly changing situation and increasing gravity of the crisis, economists are revising their forecasts almost daily.

“It is important to note that trade plays an important role in ensuring the availability and affordability of vital medicines, medical products and health care services, particularly among its most vulnerable members,” Mr Azevêdo said. “International trade is crucial to ensuring access to medicines and other medical products — no country is entirely self-reliant for the products and equipment it needs for its public health systems.”

With governments understandably occupied responding to the crisis, he went on, only a handful of notifications regarding COVID 19-related trade measures have been received by the WTO to date, but that number is likely to increase.

The WTO has several tools in place to help governments as well as the general public follow the COVID-19-related measures being imposed and notified by members to the WTO. A full list of the measures notified to the WTO is available at ww.wto.org.

Last reviewed 3 April 2020