WTO - COVID-19 and agricolture : a story of resilience

26 August 2020 |

Key points

• The COVID-19 outbreak and its rapid spread caught many governments and agricultural producers by surprise, prompting immediate policy responses by WTO members. Many of the initial measures were expected to impact negatively on the agricultural sector. But agriculture has in fact shown resilience, with a trade performance that has fared better than other sectors.

• The initial response measures were aimed at addressing members’ most urgent concerns:

containing the virus to save lives, and ensuring food security at home. In addition to lockdowns, these measures included policies that both facilitated and restricted agriculture trade: new sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and tariff reductions, as well as export restrictions. There was also an increase in stockpiling. Agricultural trade flows changed significantly, due notably to a sudden change in consumption patterns triggered by the measures put in place.

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