G20 vows to avoid 'unnecessary' trade barriers

G20 vows to avoid 'unnecessary' trade barriers

The G20 on Thursday pledged to avoid "unnecessary" trade barriers on essential goods including food during the coronavirus pandemic, after the WTO and IMF warned over the growing use of export restrictions.

The pandemic has pushed the global economy and international trade into turmoil as they face downturns not seen since the Great Depression.

Global trade is expected to register "double-digit declines" in volumes in nearly all regions this year, the World Trade Organization has said.

G20 trade and investment ministers said export restrictions on vital medical supplies and other essential goods, if necessary, must be "proportionate, transparent, temporary" and must not create "unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains".

Following a virtual meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia, the ministers also pledged to "refrain from introducing export restrictions on agricultural products" and avoid "unnecessary food-stockpiling".

Last month, the International Monetary Fund and WTO expressed concern over possible "supply disruptions" from the growing use of export restrictions that limit trade of key medical supplies and food.

They called on global leaders to refrain from imposing such restrictions.

Disruptions to supply chains could "prolong and exacerbate the health and economic crisis", the two institutions warned.

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