WTO issues new report on treatment of medical products in regional trade agreements

27 April 2020 |

Germany, the United States and Switzerland supply 35% of medical products; 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 and the Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement in 2015.

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