symbol

WTO issues new report on worldwide trade in COVID-19 medical products

Today, the WTO has released a new report on trade in medical products critical for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report traces trade flows for products such as personal protective products, hospital and laboratory supplies, medicines and medical technology while providing information on their respective tariffs.

The key points of the report are these:

  • Germany, the United States and Switzerland supply 35% of medical products; (2)
  • China, Germany and the United States export 40% of personal protective products;
  • Imports and exports of medical products totalled about US$ 2 trillion, including intra-EU trade, which represented approximately 5% of total world merchandise trade in 2019;
  • Trade of products described as critical and in severe shortage in the COVID-19 crisis totalled about US$ 597 billion, or 1.7% of total world trade in 2019;
  • Tariffs on some products remain very high. For example, the average applied tariff for hand soap is 17% and some WTO members apply tariffs as high as 65%;
  • Protective supplies used in the fight against COVID-19 attract an average tariff of 11.5% and go as high as 27% in some countries;
  • The WTO has contributed to the liberalization of trade in medical products in three main ways:
    • The results of tariff negotiations scheduled at the inception of the WTO in 1995;
    • Conclusion of the plurilateral sectoral Agreement on Pharmaceutical Products (“Pharma Agreement”) in the Uruguay Round and its four subsequent reviews;
    • The Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement in 2015.

You can find the report here