WTO Director Calls for Global Reduction in Tariffs for Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

Published by Matt Fishman on

World Trade Organization Deputy Director Alan Wolff has issued a statement that the world “must start preparing to assist in the recovery of the global economy following the COVID-19 crisis”.

Currently, “World trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020”, while “costs of trade… [have] increased by a staggering 25% estimated conservatively.” The WTO director noted how “[t]ariffs on some products remain very high”, as “the average applied tariff for hand soap is 17%” and “[p]rotective supplies used in the fight against COVID-19 attract an average tariff of 11.5%”.

Therefore, the Director says the “clearest fiscal policy tool” for making trade less costly would be a “[t]ariff reduction and elimination.” For example, he recommends a permanent removal off any tariffs “on all health-related goods (including medical equipment, medical supplies, hazardous materials handling clothing, soap, disinfectant and pharmaceuticals.”

While acknowledging trade is “not the top priority for most governments at present”, the World Trade Organization wants to shift focus on global economic recovery. Trade liberalization specifically, the organization believes, will play an important part in preventing the further plummeting of international trade following the coronavirus-crisis.