Covid-19 Trade Monitor


With cases now confirmed in more than 200 countries, the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge to public health on a global scale. As governments are in marching order to safeguard their people’s health, the contagion has fast extended to the economic sphere.

As many countries have resorted to imposing social distancing and other drastic measures to contain the epidemic, business activities are severely hit, consumption falls, and economies are stalled. Despite massive stimulus packages being crafted as economic lifelines in some developed countries, global income this year is likely to shrink substantially.

The looming global recession, which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned could be of “record dimensions”, will pose a serious threat to developing countries at a time when investing in SDGs is most needed. Leveraging far-reaching monetary, fiscal and administrative policy tools to cope with the crisis is an option these countries can often not afford, and UNCTAD estimates a USD 2 to 3 trillion financing gap facing developing countries over the next two years.

In Africa, the UN Economic Commission for Africa estimates the continent may face a decline in GDP growth from 3.2% to 1.8% in 2020 as a result of Covid-19. Started in Africa’s main trading partner, China, the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global supply chains and will inevitably impact trade in Africa and elsewhere.

Trade-related measures are being taken in a number of countries to protect their economies and their people’s well being, ranging from export bans and licensing requirements on health equipment to relaxed rules on importing medical products. Sound trade and investment policies will have to play a central role in efforts to fight and recover from the pandemic, including to minimise disruptions in global supply chains which underpin the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in developing countries.

Already, global institutions and the larger development community are engaged in analysing the economic implications of the crisis, and assessing options available to policymakers to cope with it. At CUTS, we remain committed to supporting our partners and beneficiaries in developing countries during these challenging and uncertain times.

To us, it is especially important that governments are able to take timely and informed decisions suited to their circumstances, leaving no one behind and addressing the potential negative affects on developing and least-developed countries. All should strive to allow international supply chains and trade to continue as best as possible, with special measures in favour of the poor and marginalised, both in developed and developing countries. The multilateral trading system should be supported to contribute to this effort.

With this in mind, this page monitors relevant publications and resources by trusted institutions.